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Prof. K. A. Isaac

Prof. K. A. Isaac





Prof. K. A. Isaac was born on 10th July 1925 in a Jacobite Syrian Christian family named Kaadaapuram at Kanjiramattom, Ernakulam District, Kerala as the youngest son of Mr.  & Mrs. K.V. Itten.  Father was the founder manager and head master of St.Ignatius High School, Kanjiramattom.  He was also the local Panchayat President for about fifteen years and passed away in 1962 at the age of sixty four.  Mother, Mrs. Mary Itten was a house wife and died in 1969 at the age of sixty eight.

Prof. Isaac had his primary education at Kanjiramattom and high school education at Mulanthurthy.  He studied Intermediate and B.Sc with Physics as the main subject in the Union Christian College, Alwaye.  Both in the high school and college he took part in dramas and other items of entertainment and became known for his histrionic talents.

While in the college he was also active in student politics and was President of the Students Congress unit of the college for a year.  In that capacity he led an agitation against Sri.C.P.Ramaswami Iyer’s independent Travancore movement and invited an arrest warrant which however, was not executed.

After a stint of work as demonstrator in Physics in the Union Christian College for two years and a science teacher in the St. Ignatius High School, Kanjiramattom, he joined M.Sc (Physics) in the Wilson College, Mumbai.  But due to certain unforeseen developments he was not able to continue in the course after the first year.  Later, he joined the Library Science course in the University of Delhi.  He chose the Delhi University because of the presence there of Dr.S.R.Ranganathan, world renowned library scientist and also because the Master’s course in Library Science was offered only by that University at the time.  He took the Diploma in Library Science in 1952 and the Master’s degree in 1953 with a I class and first rank in the University.

He worked as Librarian of Nirmala College, Delhi, a college started by American Jesuits, during the year 1952-53.  As the college was closed down in 1953 he applied for and was selected for a newly created post of librarian in the Forest Research Institute and Colleges, Dehra Dun.  He was there from 1953-59.

It was when he was working in Dehra Dun that he got married to Chechamma, daughter of Advocate Mr. P. K. Kurien of Kottayam in 1955.  His elder son Abraham Isaac was born in Dehra Dune in 1956.  He is now a lawyer practising in Trivandrum.  His second son Kurien Isaac, born in 1958, is now a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department of the IIT, Powai, Mumbai.

In 1959 he joined the Kerala University as the University Librarian.  Since 1961 he was heading both the University Library and the Department of Library and Information Science until he relinquished the post of University Librarian in 1980.  But he continued to be the Professor and Head of the Department till his retirement in 1985.  After this also, Prof. Isaac held almost continuous assignments.  During 1986 he served in the University of Calicut as a U.G.C. Visiting Professor; He worked on a U.G.C. Book Writing Project during 1987 and 1988; and later he served in the Mahatma Gandhi University as Special Officer (Library) on a contract basis for two years.

Prof. Isaac has worked in a number of bodies, both academic and professional, at the local, State and national level, in responsible capacities.  In the University of Kerala, he was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts for two terms, Chairman, Board of Studied in Library and Information Science from 1961 to 1986, and member of Senate, Academic Council, Faculty of Arts, and Finance Committee for different terms.  He was also a member of the Board of Studied of several other universities.  At the national level, he served as a member of the Review Committee on Library Science, Standing Advisory Committee on University and College Libraries, and Convenor of the Library and Information Science Panel of the University Grants Commission.  He was also U.G.C. National Lecturer in Library and Information Science for a term in 1984.  He also served on several other committees of academic and research institutions like the Executive Committee of the Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre, Delhi, National Social Science Documentation Centre, Delhi, National Guide Committee of the National Archives of India, Delhi, Manpower Development Committee of the Department of Science & Technology (Government of India), Delhi, the Committee appointed by the Department of Culture, Government of India for drafting National Library and Information Science Policy, Raja Rammohan Roy Library Foundation, Kolkatta, and several others.  Prof.Isaac has been very closely associated with the activities of the national and state level professional associations.  He was the founder President of the Kerala Library Association, and member, Indian Library Association and Council of the IASLIC, Calcutta.  Now he is the Patron of KLA.  He also served as a member of the Bhrana Samithi of Kerala Granthasala sangham from 1959 until its take over by the government in 1977 and in that capacity made significant contributions to the cause of public library movement in Kerala.

Prof. Isaac has widely travelled all over India and has maintained a high degree of intimacy with library professionals working in almost all important libraries in the country.  During 1960-61 he visited U.S.A. and U.K. to study the organization and operation of university libraries and Library Schools.

Over 200 papers on various aspects of Library and Information Science are there to the credit of Prof. Isaac, many of them being papers presented in various national conference/seminars/symposia, etc.  He has also authored five books, viz Libraries and Librarianship, Literature Search, Libraries in Distance Education (ed.); Glimpses of Library and Information Science and Library Legislation in India.  He has a large wealth of disciples as he has been a teacher all along. Four research scholars have taken the Ph.D degree under his guidance and there are other research scholars still being guided by him.

He re-organized the Kerala University Library on modern lines and introduced several new forms of library service which enabled the library to acquire reputation as one of the best University libraries in India.  In 1980 when he left charge of this library; it was a large system comprising the main university library, the campus central library, 28 department libraries, and a number of outstation study centres.  This called for the development of sound library policies, careful planning and execution of work and a high degree of team spirit in the staff.  This bears testimony to the professional competence and leadership qualities of Prof. Isaac.  Further, the development of the Kerala University Library under Prof. Isaac could create in the minds of the enlightened public and the academic community in Kerala a sense of respect for qualified librarianship.  Prof. Isaac was, therefore, invited by many new and old institutions to help in the re-organisation of their libraries.  Thus, he prepared a number of project reports for the development/reorganization of libraries in the State, like the State Legislature Library, the Kerala Agricultural University Library, the High Court Library, Quilon Public Library, Calicut University Library, Library of the Institute of Management in Government, Trivandrum etc.  Almost every important library in the State is indebted to him for the timely guidance and counsel it received from him in the course of its development.

The establishment of the Department of Library Science in the Kerala University and the starting of the B.Lib. Sc. degree course in 1961 marked not only the beginning of university level Library Science education in Kerala but also the continuous growth of the community of professional librarians, Prof.Isaac thereby took upon himself the task of producing a new generation of librarians with the required technical knowledge and professional motivation and attitude.  Over the years he could bring out about 700 new librarians most of whom could find positions in the State itself while others have gone to other States and even to other countries to hold responsible positions.  Prof. Isaac’s students have been, accepted everywhere as persons of both caliber and character.  Such was the care and interest he took all along in shaping the librarians of the future.  It is well known that as a teacher Prof. Isaac has excelled in the field emulating the example of his own great Guru, Dr.Ranganathan, and adding his own personal qualities of utmost sincerity, concern and openness to all his academic endeavours.

The leadership that Prof. Isaac gave to organized professional activities in the library filed in India in general and in Kerala in particular has been most significant.

Therefore it was most befitting that, in recognition of his contributions, he was selected for the award of the Fellowship of the Raja Rammohan Roy Library Foundation (RRRLF) Kolkatta for the year 2003.  This was the fourth award of the Fellowship since its inception in 2000 and the first to be given to any one from the southern part of the country.  The Fellowship was formally conferred on Prof.Isaac by His Excellency the Governor of Kerala on the 6th January 2005 at a well attended function in the V.J.T.Hall organized by RRRLF.  The citation read out on the occasion and presented to Prof.Issac succinctly describes his contributions and underlines his exalted professional status in the library sector in India.  The citation is reproduced below in full:-

“RAJA RAM MOHAN ROY LIBRARY FOUNDATION” (Established by the Department of Culture, Govt. of India) Block DD-34, Sector – 1, Sell Lake City, Kalkatta-700066.


Prof. K. A. Isaac, the doyen of Library science, has distinguished himself by selfless service, remarkable academic scholarship and admirable administrative acumen for the past four decades.  His contributions towards the development of library education and professionalism in library services at the state level and the national level are gratefully remembered and widely acknowledged.

He served as the Librarian of the Kerala University Library and retired as Professor and Head of the Department of Library and Information science in 1985.  During his stewardship, the Kerala University Library could scale new heights and acquire its status as a library of eminence.  It was Prof.Issac who pioneered Library and information Science Education in Kerala.

Right from 1953, Prof. Isaac was engaged in research project on the theoretical and practical aspects of librarianship.  In these activities he was closely associated with the late Dr.S.R.Ranganathan.  Prof.Isaac has authored a number of books including “Library legislation in India:  A critical and comparative study of State Library Acts.”

Prof. Isaac has gained unparalleled experience in the library sector, spanning from the grass roots to the national level.  He has served on the Board of the Raja Rammohan Roy Library Foundation from 1984-89; he was also a member of the committee on National Policy on Library and Information Systems.  Besides, Prof.Issac has been actively associated with Kerala Granthasala Sangham, Quilon Public Library and Trivandrum Public Library.

A teacher of eminence, a professional with commitment, Prof. Isaac stands out as a role model, with his gentle disposition, quiet confidence and inspiring vision In recognition of his rich contribution towards professionalisation of library services and library education in the country and enrichment of the library sector through his research and studies, Rammohan Roy Library Foundation confers its Fellowship on him”.

(Compiled by Dr. G. Devarajan on 30th May 2011)

Articles About/By The Teacher/Other Resources on the Teacher:

01.  An article by Prof. K. A. Isaac about Dr. S. R. Ranganathan, Kerala Library Association silver Jubilee Souvenir, 1997; pp.27-32    Download PDF

02.  Libraries & Librarianship: A Basic Introduction

03.  K A Isaac, Dr G Devarajan, S K Bajpai, Libraries in Distance Education (1989)

04.  K A Isaac, Literature search (Concepts in Communication, Informatics & Librarianship, 19) (1990)

05.  K A Isaac, G Devarajan, A V Rahelamma, Library Computerisation in India: Isaac Festschrift: Papers   Presented in Honour of Prof. K.A. Isaac (1990)

06.  K A Isaac, Glimpses of Library and Information Science (2001)

07.  K A Isaac, Library Legislation in India: A Critical and Comparative Study of State Library Acts (2004)