Dr. H. Anil Kumar was a multifaceted and multitalented personality who was admired by everyone including library professionals, the academic community, publishers and vendors of library products, and entrepreneurs who developed library solutions. His vision, leadership skills, understanding of the subject, kind-heartedness and friendly behaviour, helping nature, sense of humour, and administrative and academic skills made him a unique individual.
Dr. Anil Kumar was born in a Telugu family on July 17, 1967 in Kolar district near Bangalore. His father was a professor at Institute of Social and Economic Change, Bangalore and his mother, a homemaker. He spent his initial years in Bangalore. Though his undergraduate studies were in Science (1985-88), he shifted to library and information science. He earned a bachelor's and a master's degree (1988-90) in Library and Information Science from Bangalore University with the Gold Medal and completed his doctoral studies from M.S. University Baroda in 2010.
In the initial years of his career, he taught as a guest lecturer (1990-92) at Library and Information Science Department at Bangalore University. Later he worked as a librarian (1990-91) at PES Institute of Technology, Bangalore, and as a library assistant (1991-92) at National Law School of India, Bangalore. He came to Ahmedabad in 1992 when he got an opportunity to work at the British Library Ahmedabad. He served at the British Library at Ahmedabad and Trivandrum for three years (1992-95). Subsequently, he served in many distinguished and reputed educational institutes like Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII) (1995-97), NIRMA University (1997-2007) and Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (2007-2020).
At NIRMA University
He added many feathers to his cap at Nirma University in a short span of 10 years. Apart from his librarian's role, he played several other roles - Chief Resource Person for NirmaLabs, Chairperson Placements (2001-2006), etc. He was responsible for fund raising, marketing, and contributing to the development and growth of NirmaLabs. As Chairperson Placements, he contributed to making 100% placements a reality at the Institute. He was also involved in the various activities carried out by the academic and administrative wings at Nirma University. As an academician, he designed and delivered a Management Development Programme in Knowledge Management (1999) and conducted in-house training programme for L&T, Baroda and Tea industry in Guwahati under auspices of NEDFi. In addition to this, he designed and delivered a Knowledge Management course for MBA Programme at Nirma University and SK Patel Institute of Management, Gandhinagar. During his tenure, he played an important role in bringing out Nirma Institute of Management's newsletter - "SPARSH" (1999-2006). He also introduced "SUMANTRA - Book Club of Institute of Management, Nirma University" with the help of MBA students.
He introduced the 'Must-Read Book Section' in the library that proved to be popular and provided us an opportunity to market good books to the students. He implemented library management system - 'Alice for Windows' (first installation in India) and introduced E-Journals package (EBSCO - first subscriber in India) for users of Nirma Institute of Management. In line with his immense contribution to the Nirma Institute of Management, he won the 'Most Valuable Person Award' in the year 2000.
At IIM Ahmedabad
With a very rich, sound, and varied experience in managing libraries and providing user-friendly and value-added library services, he joined Vikram Sarabhai Library at Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad as a Librarian in 2007. He came to IIMA, with a vision to make Vikram Sarabhai Library as one of the best business school libraries in the world. He observed that two areas needed improvement. One was 'technology upgradation' and second was 'user centric services'. He wanted to convert the library form a traditional library to a vibrant and happening place for the user.
His vision and knowledge about future library technologies were amazing. In the technology front, he successfully changed library website from a static library webpage to a dynamic and interactive library website. He was instrumental in the creation of an Institutional Repository by using open source digital library software - Dspace, for showcasing, maintaining, and archiving the institute research output. An important milestone in technology implementation at Vikram Sarabhai Library was the upgrading of the library management system from a proprietary library software (LIBSYS) to open-source library management system (Koha). A few other initiatives he took during his tenure at IIMA -- building subject guides (using subject plus open source software) for library resources, introducing discovery solution - single search facility for all library resources, offering remote access solutions (library resource accessible from outside campus), android library app, instant chat facility - have significantly improved the library experience of the users.
He firmly believed that to create a world-class library environment, we needed to have a good professional team along with learning resources. He was always approachable and ever ready to share his expertise and help the library staff members. He visited many national and international libraries, archives and museums, and always shared his visit experiences with his colleagues and other library professionals. He himself was a source of new ideas and always tried to convert those ideas into reality to make the user-experience better. There were many pleasant facets of his leadership skills, such as greeting the library staff, admiring them for their achievements, empowering them to do new things, motivating them to undertake research, helping in their professional and personal growth, and so on. He used to tell us that we (library staff) are family and we should respect and help each other.
His strategies for making the library a happening place in the institute were outstanding. He took many initiatives to attract users like providing user-friendly environment and different learning spaces, providing research-assistance (research help) for supporting their academic needs, arranging training programmes on library resources, book talks, etc.
He also did many outreach programs to educate the users regarding library resources and services. One of the important outreach initiatives was "Know Your Library Quiz".
His contribution to restoring and upgrading the Vikram Sarabhai Library was remarkable. With the help of all end-user suggestions and feedback, he upgraded Vikram Sarabhai Library with new technologies like video wall, VR apps, RFID, 3D printing, interactive screens and displays, assistive technology, etc.
His involvement was not only limited to libraries; he was also actively involved in many administrative tasks at the institute: chairperson of the staff evaluation and development committee, welfare committee and staff grievance committee, member of the IIMA Archive Committee, etc. He was instrumental in changing the promotional policy at IIMA, which benefitted many staff members at the institute. He was very dear to faculty members, staff members and students alike.
For the Library Profession
He was very popular amongst library professionals in India. With his expertise and help, many library professionals have reached the top in their careers. He was also instrumental in helping upgrade several other libraries.. He has supported and guided many new entrepreneurs in developing new products: RemoteXS, Rapid Radio, RaX are a few of them that benefited from his guidance. He was also a founding member of iCreate - a Gujarat Government initiative for entrepreneurship.
He was a big fan of cricket; and during his younger days, a good player himself. He could speak for hours on cricket matches and players., Dr. Anil Kumar loved food, and enjoyed trying out different cuisines. He was an avid reader, traveller, and a guide to career aspirants in library science. He was equally interested in history, politics, philosophy, and science, and he was able to make a discussion lively with his views. We, the staff at library will miss his welcoming and smiling face at VSL. While he is no more, his vision will continue to guide VSL forever.