New proposal mooted to digitise libraries in State
In 2006, a plan was envisaged under the Universal Digital Library Project to digitise libraries in the State with assistance from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg and the Union government.
“When the project was initiated in 2006, 10 scanners were provided by the Carneige Mellon University and government bore the cost of scanning. The Directorate provided infrastructure such as computers,” said Rajendra Kumar, former Director of Public Libraries, during whose tenure the plan was put into action.
Despite a vigorous beginning, during which nearly 30,000 books were digitised, the project started to wane and, was shelved by the time Rajendra Kumar completed his tenure in 2008. Now, the scanners are lying unused at the State Library in RPC Layout, Vijayanagar, Bangalore.
Interest in the project was rekindled about three months ago when a technical committee was formed to decide on the future course of action. A proposal was also sent to the government. “We are looking at things such as e-libraries, e-journals and the total computerisation of our systems,” said K G Venkatesh, another former Director of Libraries, who retired in August 2012. However, the government has not responded to the proposal so far.
“There are numerous and, rare books in libraries of the State. But, there are no proper catalogues of books. Finding books without a computerised catalogue is difficult. Some old books are in a mutilated condition,” Venkatesh said.
Reacting to the issue, Mahantesh Badni, Director of Libraries said, “The Directorate has other, if not more serious, concerns that it needs to address urgently. Although digitisation is a must, serious shortage of staff is among the problems we have to deal with as of now.”
Bal Bhavan has shown some interest in digitising its library. The children’s library has 1,984 English, 2,630 Kannada and 300 Hindi books. “Digitisation will help in preserving books and hopefully bring back reading habit in children, which is fast diminishing. The plan is, however, at an initial stage,” said Divya Narayanappa, Secretary, Bal Bhavan.