As part of its outreach drive for young generation readers, the National Library plans to upload on the web a select part of its voluminous collection, including books on Indian culture, a top official said Tuesday.
Of the 20 lakh odd books in its possession, 5,000 titles under the Indian Culture section will be uploaded on the web in the coming months, the new officiating director the general told reporters here. “In the era of information and communication technology, National Library strives to adopt world-class support and service for its users across the world to ensure access to the digital content,” the new officiating DG Prof Ajay Pratap Singh said.
The website will be dynamic with the National Mission on Libraries India, an initiative of the Ministry of Culture under the Government of India, to take care of the funding part, Singh, also the Director-General of Raja Rammohan Library Foundation said. Asked why the present National Library website will not be used, he said, the current site will not be able to support it.
For revamping the work of the National Library, there are plans to open its closed city hub in the Esplanade area soon, with the best possible information and communication
technology support. The city hub, which was an extension of the main Library premises in the Alipore area, is closed since 2004.
It used to have newspapers and periodicals for people coming to the heart of the city. “This will be a section of National Library boasting of the best possible state-of-the-art technology where people, including young adults, will have electronics-based services, a place where the traditional library services will be blended with the latest new-age technology,” Singh told a press meet here.
He said a committee of experts in library science, technology experts, and from other fields was being formed to give more thrust to the project while NMLI would provide financial support.
Asked about the highlight of the proposed initiative since libraries like British Council Library and American Centre in nearby areas also possess state of the art technology, Singh said “while the ones you referred have their software developed years back, our information and communication technology network will be based on our Indian conditions, customised and developed by our experts”.
He said, as part of the slew of initiatives to make the National Library more functional, contemporary, upgraded, and inclusive reflecting the diversity of Indian culture, publications in eight Indian languages will be included in the library along with its existing collection in 14 languages.
“We are going to introduce eight new sections for developing repositories in Sindhi, Konkani, Manipuri, Nepali, Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, and Santhali”, he said.
“The National Library of India has been maintaining repositories of 14 scheduled languages for long years under the Delivery of Books and Newspapers Act 1954 revised in 1956. The eighth schedule consists of 22 official languages. Keeping in view the stature of 22 official languages we are going to introduce these eight new sections,” he said.
Singh said a lithographic exhibition, the first one in Kolkata, largely consisting of the collections of Ashutosh Mukherjee, representing pictures of the old city will be put on display hopefully by next month depending on the COVID-19 restrictions or whenever the situation becomes conducive.
The illustrated collections numbering around 140-150 include a picture of the official residence of the Governor-General under British rule, the Garden Reach area, and a Hindu temple near Strand Road.
The library also aimed to strengthen the reprographic section by installing state of the art self-automated ICT devices compatible with electronic money transfer particularly to help research scholars, revise the delivery of books act to make it mandatory for sending a copy of every publication in India and every India specific publication in the world to the National Library and revamp the existing section for children, he said, To a question, Singh asserted the plans will be implemented as soon as possible.
The National Library has decided to commemorate the 75th year of Independence Day celebrations in August this year with all these outreach programmes that will enable it to reach out to citizens through books, newspapers, rare documents, and digital resources. “Psychologically we will wish all our programmes be ready before that date. Let’s hope we will be able to execute them by that time. If that is not possible we will try to make
things happen as soon as possible,” he added.