Public libraries to soon get a digital makeover

New Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS) Intending to foster reading habits, facilitate research and make people information-fluent, public libraries across India are set to be digitised and revamped as part of the culture ministry plan under the National Mission on Libraries (NML), an official said.

Under the scheme, the NML will create a National Virtual Library (NVL) of India to facilitate a comprehensive database on digital resources.
“Making information more accessible is now paramount in the library sector. Our libraries may be filled with books but in the digital age they need to provide access to information that is available online,” said Culture Secretary Ravindra Singh.
“Digital libraries provide speedy access to information and they also bridge barriers of time and space,” he added.
Six libraries under the ministry, 35 central libraries in states and 35 district libraries will be developed as model libraries under the scheme. Emphasis will be laid on economically backward districts.
With an expenditure of Rs.400 crore, the Kolkata-based Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation (RRRLF) has been roped in as the nodal agency for the implementation of NML.
The scheme will also provide 629 district libraries across the states with network connectivity.
“Libraries continue to remain relevant in our lives. The challenge is not only to have large quantities of materials and resources but to also make them available to people and empower them,” said RRRLF director general K.K. Banerjee.
Approved by the government last year, NML was set up in pursuance of a report of the Sam Pitroda-headed National Knowledge Commission, which recommended an overhaul of the library and information service sector.
V. Srinivas, joint secretary, culture, said that the NML would focus on improving the library system services and infrastructure of the states which are lagging behind.
“The government is determined to make public libraries vibrant institutions and transform them into empowering and inclusive institutions,” he said.