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Libraries to go digital in five years.

I N AN ambitious move to foster reading habits and provide better research facilities to students, the Ministry of Culture -- Government of India has decided to convert public libraries into western- style digital libraries.

Envisaging the new- age library systems, the Government is set to digitise six libraries directly under the Ministry of Culture -- 35 central libraries in states and 35 district libraries will be developed as model libraries, with special emphasis on economically backward districts.

Furthermore, a total of 629 district libraries across the country will be equipped with network connectivity which will facilitate the conversion of physical books into digital copies.

The project will be headed by the National Mission on Libraries ( NML) which is under the Ministry of Culture.

The NML is also planning to create a new knowledge centre -- National Virtual Library of India -- it'll have a comprehensive database on digital resources with information generated in the country.

A total estimated cost of ` 400 crore has been decided as the budget for this ambitious project and it will take approximately five years to complete and become functional.

The initiative is designed to benefit all categories of people -- students,

provide speedy access to information and also bridge barriers of time and space," Ravindra Singh, secretary, Ministry of Culture said.

NML intends to create a baseline data of libraries in India through a quantitative and qualitative survey of 5,000 libraries to collect detailed information on quality characteristics and performance indicators in terms of their traditional role as readership promoters and information providers. It will also be assessed whether these libraries meet the requirement of their patrons in the Internet era.

However, in order to digitise the libraries countrywide, NML will have to consult with the state governments to improve infrastructure and upgrade technology.

NML is doing a study on the reading habits in different regions of the country and amongst the rural and urban communities.

NML intends to create a baseline data of libraries in India through a quantitative and qualitative survey of 5,000 libraries

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Feb 7, 2014
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