There is both formal and non-formal education. Formal education is the one that an individual attains by enrolling himself in an educational institution like a school or a college or a university and through constant teacher-student contacts. In non-formal education there is no such institutional base for education; you educate yourself through courses offered by distance education mode, with help of either other methods of learning or through self-study.Formal Education: Every institution of formal education, be it a school, a college or a university, should have a library attached to it. It should have a collection of books relevant to its courses of study. Students should be encouraged to read books and imbibe knowledge contained in them. At the earlier stages of education like the school, this should be done to supplement classroom teaching. At later stages, particularly in colleges and universities, the focal point of learning should gradually shift from classroom to the library. It is through the extensive reading of a variety of books bearing on a subject that a student will be able to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the subject. By being able to analyze and compare different viewpoints as expounded in different books, a student will be able to develop his capacity for analytical and critical thinking. It will enable him to formulate independent viewpoints and opinions. The role of the library in fostering the intellectual development of students cannot be over-emphasised. Apart from school, college and university libraries, the public libraries have a responsibility to support formal education. For this purpose, the public library must stock books and other material of an academic nature suitable for students and teachers of educational institutions and make the books, etc., available to them. It must be remembered in this context that a public library should serve everyone in its community and it should not ignore the requirements of teachers and students, who form part of the community.Non-Formal Education: In non-formal education where help of the teacher is minimal, it is the library that is the main resource. Students here have, by and large, to acquire knowledge through self-study. Libraries of formal educational institutions as well as public libraries have a significant role to play in this respect. The former should throw open their facilities to students of non-formal education in such a manner that interests of their primary clientele are not adversely affected. Universities, as the bodies that lay down academic standards and conduct examinations in the field of higher education, have a special responsibility in this regard. They should try to make their services reach as wide a clientele as possible including students of non-formal education. One way to make this possible is to establish branch libraries of the main university library at different places within its jurisdiction and making them accessible to the entire academic community in the area including students of non-formal education.But the main responsibility of supporting non-formal education rests with the public library system. Everyone should have access as a matter of right to the public library. A public library should try to discharge this responsibility by acquiring books and journals suited to needs of the students of non-formal education in its area. The development of a sound public library system is an essential pre-requisite for the successful implementation of all non-formal educational programmes.Vijay Garg
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