With the completion of its second phase, the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is now home to perhaps Asia’s largest cyber library within a university.
With nearly 500 workstations and 455 compuetrs, the library will provide access to over 14,000 journals and other materials to the students.
A brainchild of BHU Vice-Chancellor Dr Lalji Singh, the library will be accessible 24X7 with no charges.
A BHU spokesperson said the second phase of the cyber library, which marked the completion of the project, was inaugurated by the V-C on Wednesday.
“There are a total of 455 computers that will be equipped with high-speed internet connectivity. Since the premises are wi-fi enabled, those coming to the centre with their laptops can also access the cyber library,” said the spokesperson.
University librarian Dr A K Srivastava, who will also supervise the cyber library, said: “As far as we have found out, this is easily Asia’s biggest cyber library provided by a university free of cost. We would not be surprised if it turns out to be the biggest such facility in the world. It is definitely among the biggest.”
The library has been funded primarily by the Maharaja of Baroda Shivaji Rao Gaekwad and is named after him. “The building is ours while the equipment has been provided by the Maharaja. The total cost of the project is Rs 10 crore,” said Dr Srivastava. He added the BHU planned to make the cyber library a research hub across disciplines.
“The students can access around 14,500 journals and e-books. A large number of these e-books and e-journals have been already subscribed by the BHU,” he said.
The BHU V-C, who hails from Jaunpur district, had envisaged the project as a platform that could be used by the poor students, most of whom hail from backward areas of the Puravanchal region, without having to buy a laptop.
The work on the project had begun around three years ago and the first phase was completed in March 2013.
According to official statistics prepared in November 2013, there were on an average 793 users at the cyber library when only around 255 computers were installed. “Obviously the numbers will increase. But each workstation has been provided with a cubicle. So, there will be no confusion or chaos. The students can concentrate on the work without any hindrance,” said Dr Srivastava.
“There is a separate area earmarked for those using the library with their laptops. But for the rest, all they have to do is login with IDs provided to them,” said Deputy Librarian (Cyber Library), D K Singh.
While the cyber library section alone is spread over 1.5 acres, the work platform is double-storeyed. The outsiders intending to use the facility will have to come through a proper procedure of screening from the computer section, he added.