Monday, May 9, 2011

Libraries take the digital route

PUNE: Keeping pace with the times, libraries at research institutes have begun to digitise their book collections.
The Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute is in the process of scanning books between 1500 AD and 1900 AD, while the Bhaskaracharya Pratishthan, which has a rare collection of pure mathematics, also plans to use the digital platform.
One of country's foremost research institutes, the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, has digitised its books from the 16th century onwards. Plans are afoot to make it available to the public through the internet on a membership basis. The Jayakar Library of the University of Pune has also scanned over 3,000 books so far. The Deccan College received a grant from the Union government last year for this purpose. "The first phase of digitisation will consist of books published between 1500 and 1900. Work on the project began a year ago and we are half-way through. The grant is just enough for us to digitise the books in this period. Once we receive more funds, work will continue," said Trupti More, a librarian at Deccan college.
The college has a collection of 1.7 lakh books in Marathi, Hindi and English, many of them travel guides from the 16th century. They also have manuscripts on the Vedas, astronomy and ayurveda.Suresh Patil, chief librarian of Jayakar Library, said, "With changing reading habits and the advent of technology, libraries also need to update themselves. Digitising books makes it more accessible and convenient to readers, academicians and researchers. It increases the reader database and ultimately spreads knowledge."
Patil stressed that digitisation makes it easy to search for books, authors, theses and references. "Earlier, we used to spend hours searching for books or authors. Now we just have to click a few times." Jayakar Library has over five lakh books and 2,300 manuscripts in Hindi and Marathi. The Gokhale Institute will soon digitise over 20,000 books, mostly on social science and economics, dating back to the 1680s. Many of them have come apart and cannot be given to those wanting to read them. Instead the institute will scan them so that readers can either take a printout or download them, or even read them on the computer screen. The Institute has received a grant of Rs 20 lakh for the project from the University Grants Commission. Nanaji Shewale, chief librarian of the Gokhale Institute, said, "Once the project is complete, online access will become possible."
Source: Times of India dated 9 May 2011

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