Arrival of new information technologies has revolutionized education and learning sector. Most of the foreign universities have digital libraries built on digital infrastructure, services and collections. They promote lifelong research, knowledge and scholarly communication. Consequently, such countries are far ahead in terms of development as compared to India. Digital public libraries preserve, conserve and propagate latest knowledge and can be universally accessed by a large group. Realising its significance in education industry, Rajasthan education department intends to give public libraries a digital makeover.
Taking significant steps in this direction, state government has decided to computerize existing libraries. These ‘new-generation’ libraries let users decide what type of books they would like to keep in their registry. Also, they can suggest good reads, based on personal preferences. Democratization of information is an important objective that Rajasthan government wants to accomplish with these libraries.
Public Digital Libraries: Pros vs. Cons
- These libraries are not confined to a particular building but widely distributed all over the city via interconnected network of multimedia system based on fingerprint access.
- They’re available 24×7 all year round on the internet.
- The best part is they’ve a well-structured catalogue for a particular book that provides easy access. Since a book is present in multiple copies therefore, multiple users can access a single resource at the same time.
- Users can search for their favourite books by using a variety of search terms including author names, book titles, publication houses, chapter names etc.
- Digital libraries reduce the space and cost issues. It’s easier to maintain a computer-powered network, compared to traditional libraries.
- Internet speed in India is a major concern for government. Authorities need to build up a high-speed network if they wish to connect multiple establishments together.
- Government needs to generate awareness regarding electronic gadgets. Most villages and towns are untouched by IT development. Being unfamiliar with computers and tablets people find it easier to read printed material. This mentality needs to be changed.
Despite these shortcomings, having public digital libraries near government schools and research institutes seems like a good idea. It helps in exposing students to novel facts.
Rajasthan Government has Great Hopes for this Project
Rajasthan education minister Vasudev Devnani called in a review meeting of Jaipur library heads on Monday (December 5). Based on their discussions, participants suggested a special membership drive to attract more members. Libraries will hold public debates on current issues at least once a month to engage new members in this drive.
Libraries will receive inputs on types of books required by readers. Once this is decided, several copies of a book will be included to satisfy large number of readers. Computerized system will also make it less cumbersome to hunt for a particular book.
Government will attempt to include books on trending topics and all genres, keeping in mind the interest of young readers. Reasonable monthly and annual fees will be charged for membership.
With arrival of Kindle gadgets and reading software, libraries have gradually lost importance among readers. By digitizing libraries, Rajasthan government intends to restore their significance as centre for knowledge in modern-day society.