Digital libraries initiatives in India

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  • The International Information & Library Review (2006) 38, 161169

    The InternationalInformation & Library Review


    EncbIndira Gandhi National Open University, Delhi, India

    & 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    and the library schools are re-designing their

    additional technology, education and training are

    resources. The paper intends to propose variousaspects of evaluation of DLs initiatives in India.The advantage of having a DL is now well under-stood by librarians, technologists, management and


    Corresponding author.E-mail addresses: (P.K. Jain), parveen-users.

    1057-2317/$ - see front matter & 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.iilr.2006.06.003 (P. Babbar).The role of the librarian and the information officeris changing in the digital library (DL) situation.With the changing scenario each is required toacquire new skills for developing and managingthe DLs. The departments of Library Sciences

    required.In India there are a number of university and

    institute libraries, which are in the process ofconversion into DLs. Library and informationcentres in the present time are digitizing theircurricula in the changing environment. For DLs,Summary Digital libraries (DLs) have evolved, and developments in informationtechnology have changed the concept of the library from one of print and papermedia to digital media. The success of a DL depends upon the computers,communication skills, and knowledge of library professionals in connection withmodern technology. In the present scenario, we stand at a transition from thetraditional library to a global DL. The technology-based idea is to provide universalaccess to digital content available only in a DL environment.

    Today the emergence of digital technology and computer networks has provided ameans whereby information can be stored, retrieved, disseminated and duplicatedin a fast and efficient manner. On a global level, DLs have made considerableadvances both in technology and its application. India still has far to go if the nationis to benefit from this movement. Only sporadic and partial attempts have beenmade towards DL initiatives in India.

    The basic objective of DL initiatives in India has been to preserve the art, cultureand heritage of this country. All projects aimed at creating DLs concentrate only onspecialized collections. The DL initiative in India is still at a nascent or embryonicstage. But with the initiative like DL policy, it can also be said that the nation isserious about DL implementation.Digital libraries initiative

    P.K. Jaina,, Parveen Babbarb

    aInstitute of Economic Growth, University of Delhiin India

    lave, Delhi 110007, India

  • Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Indian

    also partner with other country specific DL initia-


    P.K. Jain, P. Babbar162Institutes of Science (IIScs), research institutesand some special libraries. Some governmentagencies, as well as public-sector institutions, arealso engaged in digitization of libraries. But theinitiatives taken by the Government of India in thisdirection indicate that the potential of ICTs fordeveloping DLs has not been fully realized. Whileone government agency is providing support for oneparticular aspect, the other is focusing elsewhere,without any coordinated effort by a nodal agency.The concept of DLs in the developed countries

    started during the 1970s, but in India it began in themid-1990s with the advent of ITon a large scale andthe support extended by the central government.The advent of the Internet acted as a catalyst forDL initiatives. The basic objective of DL initiativesin India has been to preserve the art, culture andheritage of this country. All projects aimed atcreating DLs concentrate only on specializedcollections. The DL initiative in India is still at anascent or embryonic stage.The concept was recognized in India during the

    Fifteenth Annual Convention and Conference onDigital Libraries, organized by the Society ofInformation Science at Bangalore from 18 to 20January 1996. A few libraries had made attempts inthis direction earlier.Only sporadic and partial attempts have been

    made towards DL initiatives. Simplistic approacheshave been taken in the libraries, such as getting afew databases on CD-ROM, subscribing to a fewe-journals, scanning a few documents, or creatingAdobe Acrobat files and installing these on anintranet. But this scenario is changing at a snailspace, and it has to gain momentum to survive in thecompetitive world.DL initiatives in India were started basically for

    preservation of the art, culture and heritage of thecountry. The categorization of DL initiatives in Indiamay be listed as follows.

    Initiatives at the government level

    Both the Union Government and the state govern-ments of India have taken considerable initiativestowards the development of DLs. Support ofGovernment of India towards DL initiatives-policyDL initiatives in India

    The situation in India regarding DLs is very peculiar.Generally, the use of Information Technology (IT)and Information and Communication Technology(ICT) in libraries in India is concentrated inuniversities, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs),tives as part of the Universal Library Project( spearheaded by Prof. Raj Reddyand Carnegie Mellon University.The current status of scanning centres of DLI

    shows that approx 24.521 million pages have beenscanned at various centres in India. It shows thatapproximately 80,240 books have been scanned(Table 1).issues: The Long-Term National IT Policy (NationalTask Force on IT and Software Development, 2003)shows us the commitment of the Government ofIndia to provide information to users in digitalform. The responsibility of envisioning, developing,and sustaining functional hybrid and virtual libraryand information systems and services rests on thelibrary and information profession.

    DL of IndiaThere is a mission to create a portal for the digitallibrary of India (DLI) piloted by the Office of thePrincipal Scientific Advisor to the Government ofIndia, Ministry of Communication and InformationTechnology (MCIT) with IISc and Carnegie MellonUniversity, USA, as partners.The mission is to create a portal for the DLI which

    will foster creativity and free access to all humanknowledge. As a first step in realizing this mission,it is proposed to create the DL with a free-to-read,searchable collection of one million books, pre-dominantly in Indian languages, available to every-one over the Internet. This portal will also becomean aggregator of all the knowledge and digitalcontents created by other DL initiatives in India.This portal would provide a gateway to Indian DLs inscience, arts, culture, music, movies, traditionalmedicine, palm leaves and many more. The resultwill be a unique resource accessible to anyone inthe world 24 7, without regard to socioeconomicbackground or nationality.One of the goals of the DLI is to provide support

    for full text indexing and searching based on opticalcharacter recognition (OCR) technologies, whereavailable. The availability of online search allowsusers to locate relevant information quickly andreliably thus enhancing students success in theirresearch endeavours. This 24 7 resource wouldalso provide an excellent test bed for languageprocessing research in areas such as machinetranslation, OCR, summarization, speech and hand-writing recognition, intelligent indexing, and in-formation retrieval in Indian languages.It is expected that the DLI will be mirrored at

    several locations worldwide so as to protect theintegrity and availability of the data. The DLI will


    Digital libraries initiatives in India 163Language No of books No. of pages

    English 49,674 17,456,701Telugu 14,063 2,804,200Hindi 6318 1,458,386Urdu 2977 719,523Tamil 1550 396,021Sanskrit 1485 510,340Persian 1000 245,727Multi 699 198,158Others 704 220,350Arabic 617 198,552Kannada 586 140,585Marathi 363 90,947German 121 46,803French 63 24,770Oriya 5 6978Bengali 4 713Spanish 4 17Italian 3 1172Greek 1 539Gujarati 1 52Irish 1 538Russian 1 73VidVidwiforGoanstrIndalsna

    Saththa DdotoforwistathInd

    Figures by languageTable 1 Number of books and pages scanned, bylanguage.yanidhiyanidhi began as a pilot project in the year 2000th support from the National Information System

    Science and Technology (NISSAT) and thevernment of Indias Department of Scientificd Industrial Research (DSIR). Vidyanidhi demon-ated the feasibility of e-theses programmes inia. With support from the Ford Foundation ando from Microsoft India, Vidyanidhi is evolving as ational initiative.Vidyanidhi (meaning Treasure of Knowledge innskrit) is Indias premier DL initiative to facilitatee creation, archiving and accessing of doctoraleses. Vidyanidhi is an information infrastructure,L, a portal of resources, tools and facilities forctoral research in India. Vidyanidhi is envisionedevolve as a national repository and a consortiume-theses through participation and partnership

    th universities, academic institutions and otherke holders. Vidyanidhi enhances access to Indianeses and enlarges the reach and audience forian doctoral research works.The mission of Vidyanidhi project is to

    develop a repository for Indian doctoral theses,digitize, archive and improve access to doctoraltheses in India,




    flebgroups against one group in International Patentssification (IPC), e.g. AK61K35/78 related todicinal plants. Present status of TKDL is re-cted in Table 2.andsuvative structured classification system for therpose of systematic arrangement, disseminationretrieval has been evolved for about 10,500Knonoe international languages which are English,rman, French, Japanese and Spanish. Traditionalwledge Resource Classification (TKRC), an in-Ayufivowledge from the existing literature related torveda, Unani and Siddha, in digitized format inknokn make theses available online (as per the restric-tions desired by the doctoral students) andhelp enhance the visibility of Indian doctoralresearch,

    offer tools and resources to strengthen andaugment the research capacities of doctoralstudents and universities,

    enhance the quality of doctoral research in Indiaby developing and using standard formats andtemplates,

    mould best practices in scholarship and scho-larly writing among students, and

    prepare the doctoral students in e-publishing,e-scholarship and DLs by offering training pro-grammes and online tutorials.

    The Vidyanidhi DL is conceived as having twolayersmetadata database and full text of theses.They are currently focusing on building both theselayers. Currently it has nearly 50,000 records in themetadata database and 300 full text theses. TheVidyanidhi metadata database is a truly multi-lingual database with records in English and Indianlanguages as well. Vidyanidhi has implemented theUnicode standard for Indian languages and scripts.

    Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL)Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is acollaborative project between the National Insti-tute of Science Communication and InformationResources (NISCAIR), the Council of Scientific andIndustrial Research (CSIR) of the Ministry of Scienceand Technology, and the Department of Ayurveda,Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeo-pathy (AYUSH) of the Ministry of Health and FamilyWelfare, which is being implemented at theNational Institute of Science Communication andInformation Resources (NISCAIR). An inter-disciplin-ary team of traditional medicine (Ayurveda, Unani,Siddha, Yoga) experts, patent examiners, IT ex-perts, scientists and technical officers are involvedin creation of TKDL for Indian systems of medicine.The project TKDL involves documentation of thewledge available in public domain on traditional


    P.K. Jain, P. Babbar164At present, TKDL contains 11.0 million pages ofinformation in five international languages.

    GyandootGyandoot (meaning messenger of knowledge) isa new intranet-based DL in the Dhar district of thestate of Madhya Pradesh connecting rural publiccybercafes. A corresponding website is an exten-sion of Gyandoot intranet providing giving globalaccess via a portal. Gyandoot was conceived in adiscussion with the Secretary, Information Technol-ogy, Government of Madhya Pradesh on November11, 1999. The pilot project was launched onNovember 29, 1999 and it was officially commis-sioned on January 1, 2000. Thus, from concept tocommissioning, the entire Gyandoot DL project wasexecuted in the short space of 51 days for a cost of$57,000 USD.Gyandoot is a unique form of government to

    citizen (G2C) DL activity to address the hardshipimposed by transaction costs associated withgovernment services. Located in central India,agriculture and industry are the twin mainstays ofbusiness. Close to four thousand million rupees(90M USD) worth of agricultural commodities aretransacted annually, principally soya, cotton, andwheat. Indore is the largest automobile centre inAsia. The local elected governing council (DistrictPanchayat, Dhar) is enabling over half a millionrural citizens affordable access to various govern-ment and market-related needs through state-of-the-art IT kiosks.

    Table 2 Present status of TKDL.

    Discipline Target (no. offormulations)


    Ayurveda 59,000 59,000Unani 77,000 51,000Siddha 10,000 Yoga 1500

    Total 147,500 110,000Samadhan KendrasIn order to turn food producers/consumers intoinformation producers/consumers, the Indian gov-ernment is making efforts for the establishment ofSamadhan Kendras (SKF Rural Support Centres)and Soochana Gumtis (SGInformation Kiosks)in the list of industries eligible for loans undervarious programs. DLs are being used for the publicgrievances redressal systems of the state govern-ments through SG facilitation counters in govern-ment offices.Indian National Digital Library in EngineeringScience and Technology (INDEST) consortium

    The Ministry of Human Resource Development(MHRD) has set-up the INDEST consortium on therecommendation made by the expert group ap-pointed by the ministry under the chairmanship ofthe Prof. N. Balakrishnan. The Ministry providesfunds required for subscription to electronic re-sources for 38 institutions including IISc, IITs, NITs,IIMs and a few other centrally funded governmentinstitutions through the consortium headquartersset-up at the IIT Delhi. Also, 44 government orgovernment-aided engineering colleges and tech-nical departments in universities have joined theconsortium with financial support from the All-IndiaCouncil for Technical Education (AICTE). Moreover,the INDEST Consortium, as an open-ended proposi-tion, welcomes other institutions to join it on theirown for sharing benefits it offers in terms of highlydiscounted rates of subscription and better termsof agreement with the publishers. All electronicresources being subscribed are available from thepublishers websites. The consortium has an activemailing list and a website hosted at the IIT, Delhi.The INDEST consortium is the most ambitious

    initiative taken so far in the country. The benefit ofSamadhan Kendras/Soochanalaya Gumtis: InMadhya Pradesh, a regional network connects 21rural cybercafes called Soochanalayas. Each Soo-chanalaya provides services for about 1015 village(Gram) Panchayat (a cluster of 2030 villages) withan aggregate population of 20,00030,000 people.The network covers 5 of 13 blocks and 3 of 7 tehsilsin the district. Soochanalayas are located at blockheadquarters, haat (main) bazaars, villages and busdepot centres. The Soochanalayas are located onthe roadside of the central villages where peoplenormally travel. They together serve a populationof over half a million.A local matriculate operator called a soochak

    operates the cybercafes. The soochak is not agovernment employee but rather a local volunteer.The soochak takes out a bank loan to buy thecomputer, modem and printer while the Panchayatcovers the cost of the phone line. Villagers pay anominal amount for each service, usually less thanUS 50 cents for any service and there is a set pricelist. The soochak keeps 90% of the fees with a 10%commission passed back to the Panchayat for newservice development and increasing system capa-city. With the soochak approach, cybercafes areproviding self-employment through entrepreneur-ship to local rural youth.

  • bib

    obituary references made in the houses since






    the Central Library, IIT, Delhi.


    Digital libraries initiatives in India 165NISCAIR is the nodal organization for developing aconsortium for the CSIR laboratories for accessinge-journals. The activities shall range from creationto monitoring of the access facilities of scientificperiodicals published by leading internationalinstitutions. To start with, an agreement has beensigned with Elsevier Science for a period of fouryears for 1200 journals. Under this scheme, CSIRscientists shall be able to access these journals anddownload material for their use. Such access toworldwide journal resources playing a very vitalrole and strengthening research and developmentin CSIR laboratories, thus leading to knowledgegeneration useful for socio-economic developmentof the country. The objectives are:

    to strengthen the pooling, sharing and electronicaccess to the CSIR library resources,

    to provide access to world S&T literature to CSIRlabs, and

    to nucleate the culture of electronic accessresulting into evolution of DLs.

    To date, CSIR has entered into agreement with 11publishers to access about 3316 internationaljournals across the labs.

    Initiatives at national level institutions

    Parliament libraryA DL has been set up in the computer centre tocater to the needs of members of Parliament andofficers and staff of Lok Sabha Secretariat. A largenumber of index-based databases of informationgenerated within the Parliament which cater to theCSIR consortiumMaest Science, Science Direct, Springer Link andliographic databases Compendex, Inspec, andthSciNet.Quconsortium-based subscriptions to electronic re-sources is not confined to 38 major technologicalinstitutions in the country but is also extended toall AICTE-accredited and UGC-affiliated institu-tions. Ninety-nine engineering colleges and institu-tions have already joined the consortium on theirown.INDEST consortium presently includes the Asso-

    ciation for Computing Machinery (ACM) DL, Amer-ican Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) journals,American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)journals, Academy of Management Review (AMR),Capitaline, Euromonitor, Global Market InformationDatabase (GMID), Institute for Educational Leader-ship (IEL) Online, Indian Standards, Nature, Pro-IITs are fortunate enough to receive generousgrants and projects from government bodies suchas AICTE (All India Council of Technical Education)and the Ministry of Human Resources Developmentand Management (MHRD) to develop their DLs.devernet connection has led to the launching of amber of sponsored and un-sponsored projects foreloping network-based digitized collections atoftallation of a fibre optics-based campus LANnnected to a 2Mbps VSNL radio link enablingter Internet access for the academic communitythe Institute. The availability of the high-speedLib

    on Web-based digitized collections at the Centralrary, IIT Delhi commenced in 1998 with theThe

    , New Delhicommitment to DL initiatives and the emphasistional importance

    Initiatives at academic institutions ofcatalogue can also be accessed through Internet;documentation service (from 1989 onwards)(important articles published in books, reports,periodicals and newspapers are indexedand annotated and can be accessed throughInternet).provisional parliament; library management functions such as acquisi-tion, processing and issue and return of bookshave also been computerized using the softwarepackage named LIBSYS. A Web-based libraryinstant reference needs of members, officers andresearch and reference personnel were initiallydeveloped by the computer centre. The data storedand available now in PARLIS databases for onlineretrieval relates to:

    parliamentary questions (full texts of questionsand answers since February 2000; indexes from1985 to 2000 are also available);

    parliamentary proceedings other than questions(full text of floor versions since the wintersession of 1993; indexes from 1985 to 1993 arealso available);

    government and private members bills from1985 onwards (only indexes);

    directions, decisions and observations from thechair, from 1952 onwards;

    presidents rule in the states and union terri-tories, from 1951;

    members of council of ministers from 1947onwards;


    P.K. Jain, P. Babbar166A number of online coursewares have been devel-oped. Digitization of old volumes of journals at IITDelhi is just one example of projects supported bythe government.

    Indian Institute of ScienceA project proposal for NSF support under the Indo-US Science and Technology Collaboration initiativehas been made by IISc. The IISc, Bangalore wouldact as a nodal agency to coordinate amongstvarious academic institutions and governmentalagencies from the Indian side. The Carnegie MellonUniversity would play the same role from the USside.The aim of the project is to digitize around a

    million books in the next three years. This jointinitiative is planned to synergistically capitalize onthe availability of the state-of-the-art of hardwareand software in the US for digitizing, storing andaccessing of information and the quality personnelavailable in India. This would act as a forerunnerfor many such initiatives with other countries,particularly in China and Korea, and would culmi-nate in the grandiose vision of digitizing all theformal knowledge and make available in a locationand time independent way for the benefit of themankind. In order to take a million books to theWeb, it is estimated that around 1000 man-yearswould be needed. If the project is carried out in adeveloped country like the United States ofAmerica, it would cost at least around 40M $besides the cost of the hardware, space and energy.

    National Institute of Technology, CalicutNalanda, the DL initiated in 1999 at the NationalInstitute of Technology, Calicut, is one of thelargest DLs in the country. Nalanda serves membersof the campus in meeting their academic andresearch needs by providing timely and up-to-dateinformation with value added services in all theareas of science, engineering, and technology.Apart from the DL reading room, members canaccess the Nalanda from the entire campus.

    NISCAIR (formerly INSDOC)NISCAIR is slowly shifting to electronic libraries thatwill eventually lead to the establishment of DLs.With decreasing shelf space and ever growingcollections in the libraries, NISCAIR has beenadvocating the conversion of automated librariesinto electronic libraries.NISCAIR has access to international databases.

    Information is obtained through online searchingfrom over 1500 international databases. Skilledpersonnel at NISCAIR perform searches for researchscientists and the corporate sector who use thesedatabases for the latest R&D, commercial andmarket information. National Science Library ofNISCAIR has an Electronic Library Division with arich collection of more than 5000 foreign journals,conference proceedings, etc. and a large number ofdatabases on CD-ROMs. NISCAIR is the nodal agencyfor developing a consortium for CSIR laboratoriesfor accessing e-journals. The activity shall rangefrom creation to monitoring of the access facility ofscientific periodicals published by leading interna-tional institutions.

    National Tuberculosis Institute, BangaloreOn 28th October, 2003, the National TuberculosisInstitute Bangalore, under the initative and withthe support of the Health InterNetwork Project,India TB, launched a DL. This DL was comprised ofCDs on tuberculosis (TB), made available as readyreference tools for programme workers at theDistrict and Primary Health Center Levels. TheCDs on TB have relevant Revised National Tubercu-losis Control Programme (RNTCP) documents andscientific literature on programme, treatment,drug resistance and control aspects of TB.

    Digitization of art and culture

    Centre for Development of Advanced Computing(C-DAC)DL of art masterpiecesThis is the first initiative of its kind in Asia and itwill digitize 200 rare paintings of RabindranathTagore and Amrita Shergill from National Gallery ofModern Arts (NGMA). A DL will be created using thetool Digital Library Application Suite (DLAS), devel-oped by the DL Group, to make the art accessible toa global audience via the World Wide Web. Theinfrastructure to host this DL would be located atthe C-DAC Bangalore.C-DAC and Hewlett Packard launched the joint

    initiative When Art Meets Technology for digitalpreservation, restoration and dissemination of artfrom the NGMA at Bangalore on February 04, 2003.

    Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts(IGNCA)KalasampadaIGNCA has taken up the Kalasampada DigitalLibraryResource for Indian Cultural Heritage(DL-RICH) project which is sponsored by MCIT.This project aims to use multimedia computer

    technology to develop a software package thatintegrates a variety of cultural information andhelps the users to interact and explore the subjectsavailable in image, audio, text, graphics, animationand video on a computer in a non-linear mode, by aclick of mouse.

  • K(4) National, regional and other public libraries willbe required to develop databases of their

    (5) An effective copyright protection system is a






    Digital libraries initiatives in India 167view the materials. These materials include severalhundred thousand manuscripts, over a hundredthousand slides, thousands of rare books, photo-graphs, audio and video along with highly re-searched publications of IGNCA, all accessiblefrom a single window.The system aims to be a digital repository of

    content and information with a user-friendly inter-face. The knowledge base created will help thescholars to explore and visualize the informationstored in multiple layers. This will provide a newdimension in the study of the Indian art andculture, in an integrated way, while giving dueimportance to each medium.

    Initiatives within society level organizations

    Mobile DL (Dware Dware Gyan Sampada)This is a product from C-DAC Noida. The mission ofthe project is an Internet-enabled mobile DLbrought to common citizens with the purpose ofspreading literacy. C-DAC Noida (Department of IT,MCIT) contributes to bringing digitized books to thedoorsteps of common citizens. It makes use of amobile van with a satellite connection for con-nectivity to the Internet. The van is fitted with aprinter, scorer, cutter and binding machine forproviding bound books to the end user. Differentplaces, such as schools in villages and other remoteareas, will be covered under this programme topromote literacy and demonstrate the use oftechnology for the masses. The schedule of visitsof the mobile DL is made available on their website.Books formatted for book printing may be selectedfrom the website by language, author and title.There are about 350 books in Hindi and Englishwhich will be available for download through thiswebsite. The site is bilingual (English and Hindi).

    Indian DL policy

    The National Task Force on IT and SoftwareDevelopment (2003) has given some valuablerecommendations for development of DLs in thecountry. These recommendations have been cov-ered in the report under the IT Action Plan (Part III)for the content creation and content industry. Thesalient features of the recommendations are listedbelow:

    (1) A pilot project on DL development, based onindigenous software, will be initiated. Thefaciresealasampada, a unique project of its kind, willlitate the students, scholars, artists and thearch and scientific community to access andis available, there is an acute shortage ofpetent personnel to take up the task ofitizing local content and creating digital infor-tion repositories. The students, faculty, curricu-and training methodology at the disposal oforgatureelopment in India.he lack of interest on the part of parentitutions and the absence of action plans orrities are major hindrances. Though the com-er and communication infrastructure is improv-considerably in India, its availability forrmation-based activity is not appreciated to aiceable extent by the higher authorities innizations. Even in places where the infrastruc-Thedevblems of DLs in India

    re are many problems associated with DLrom the points listed above it can be said thatnation is serious about DL implementation.prerequisite for development of creative worksin electronic media. Therefore, the Indiancopyright law should be strengthened in thisdirection. Further, there is a need for globalharmonization of copyright laws. The conclu-sion of the trade-related aspects of intellectualproperty rights (TRIPSs) agreement and the twoWorld Intellectual Proprietary Organization(WIPO) treaties will be adopted for that will be hosted on a designatedwebsite for free access to users.project will be time-bound and implemented atone of the suitable existing libraries to serve asa model. The software so developed can bedistributed to other organizations to acceleratethe development of DLs in the country.

    (2) India is known for its rich and diverse culturalheritage. It also possesses a vast wealth oftraditional knowledge. These are mostly inIndian languages and should be promoted andpreserved for posterity. The government willtherefore take initiatives through appropriateprojects to create electronic images of infor-mation on Indian arts and culture for widerdissemination and research.

    (3) It will be mandatory for all the universities ordeemed universities in the country to hostevery dissertation or thesis submitted forresearch degrees on a designated website.

  • the information is only available to people fromaffluent communities who meet the necessary

    of development. With the advent of the Internetand World Wide Web, DL development in India


    P.K. Jain, P. Babbar168requirements. As a result, information and knowl-edge sharing are not provided fairly, and all thepeople may not have similar qualities of informa-tion access.

    Some hard realities about India

    According to a 2002 World Bank Report (Petkoski,2002, p. 26):

    A quarter of the worlds poverty is in India, 3 computers / 1000 people; and Nearly 250million children in the country do nothave access to computers.

    So, inadequacy of information for the ruralmasses is one major hindrance in the path of DL.There are 600,000 villages in India. 240,000 of themdo not have proper roads, 180,000 do not haveprimary schools, 450,000 have inadequate drinkingwater, and 140,000 have no proper dwellingfacility. 70% of Indias population of one thousandmillion lives in villages. Lack of health education,poor communication infrastructure and unemploy-ment are problems plaguing Indian villages. Thedigital divide is nowhere more prominent than inIndia. The average literacy rate is 62.38%. A total of26.1% of the urban and 10.8% of the ruralsionals to create and maintain digital informationfacilities to usher in the new information age.One of the major constraints in digitization is the

    digital divide. Access to DLs is dependent uponhardware and software requirements. Therefore,niccoation infrastructure, should be channelled byncerned and authorized information profes-personnel and a sizeable improvement in commu-

    coIndias library schools must be visibly improved tomeet this challenge.Coupled with this, steps should be taken to re-

    train the existing staff. The increasing interest inlibrary website development and the migration ofinformation sources and services to the Web shouldbe treated as stepping-stones in DL development.Libraries should judiciously utilize enhanced infor-mation access options, such as Web access tosubscribed journals. The digital resources thusaccessed will contribute much to research activ-ities in India by reducing some of the existingbarriers to information communication, such astime and space. The growth of the softwareindustry in India, as a result of a large increase inmputer penetration, a sudden increase in skilledencounters new challenges. DL initiatives in Indiabegan with the goal of preservation of art, cultureand heritage of the country. The digital environ-ment in the Indian context is a new concept thatbecame a reality through projects funded by thegovernment. The long-term national IT policyshows us the commitment of the government ofIndia to providing information to users in digitalform, and that the responsibility of envisioning,developing and sustaining functional hybrid andvirtual library and information systems and servicesrests on the library and information professions.The successful implementation of the INDESTConsortia in IITs, RECs and IIMs shows the progressof Indian DL initiatives. The CSIR e-journalsconsortia also show the benefits of DL initiatives.From the examples of DLs initiatives in India, it canpopulation have completed a minimum of 10 yearsof schooling and are capable of utilizing ICTs,including DLs. The Internet is accessed by 0.37%of users in India, most of whom are from theprofessional and corporate sector or schools andcolleges in urban areas.Bridging the poverty gap and decreasing the

    digital divide requires all-round development. Anydevelopmental activity requires information andadequate information for planners and is simply notavailable for individuals. Villagers need informationfor agricultural production and marketing theirproduce. Traditional library service needs to besupplemented by electronic resources making useof IT, computers and communication. Most of thevillagers still depend upon voice telephony as animportant means of information transfer.


    The time has come for a systematic approach inestablishing a DL system in India. There are alreadymany discrete projects on the digitization anddistribution of electronic data underway in India, ashas been described in this paper.The vision of Indian DLs should be to create an

    Indian information infrastructure in which theresources of universities, governments, businessesand industry are linked to form a cohesive nationaldigitized information service. The service willprovide seamless access to sources across differentsystems using a variety of formats, and therebyachieve cost-effective development of a morecompetitive Indian research enterprise.DLs initiatives in India are still at a nascent stage

  • be said that there are a few projects, such as TKDL,that can develop into examples for others to follow.


    C-DAC Noida. Digital e-library. Retrieved July 25, 2006, from

    Petkoski, Djordjija. (Ed.). (2002). Corporate Social Responsibility,Education and Technology. Washington, DC: World Bank.

    Further reading

    Ashraf, Tariq. (2004). Library services in electronic environment:Changes challenges issues and strategies. New Delhi: KaveriBooks.

    Borgman, Christine. (1999). What are digital libraries? Compet-ing visions. Information Processing and Management, 35(3),227243.

    C-DAC. Centre for Development of Advanced Computing.Retrieved July 25, 2006, from

    Crane, Gregory. (1998). The Perseus project and beyond: Howbuilding a digital library challenges the humanity andtechnology. D-Lib Magazine. Retrieved June 5, 2006, from

    Griffin, Stephen M. (1998). 1998 NSF/DARPA/NASA digitallibraries initiative: A program managers perspective. D-Lib

    Magazine. Retrieved June 5, 2006, from

    IEEE Computer Society. (1996). A special issue on digital libraryinitiatives. May 1996.

    International Conference on Digital Libraries. (2004). Knowledgecreation, preservation, access and management. New Delhi:TERI.

    Kurweil, Raymond. (1992). The future of libraries, part 2: Theend of books. Library Journal, 141.

    Lancaster, Frederick. (1978). Towards paperless informationsystems. New York: Academic Press.

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    Digital libraries initiatives in India 169

    Digital libraries initiatives in IndiaIntroductionDL initiatives in IndiaInitiatives at the government levelDL of IndiaVidyanidhiTraditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL)GyandootSamadhan Kendras

    Indian National Digital Library in Engineering Science and Technology (INDEST) consortiumCSIR consortium

    Initiatives at national level institutionsParliament library

    Initiatives at academic institutions of national importanceIIT, New DelhiIndian Institute of ScienceNational Institute of Technology, CalicutNISCAIR (formerly INSDOC)National Tuberculosis Institute, Bangalore

    Digitization of art and cultureCentre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC)--DL of art masterpiecesIndira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA)--Kalasampada

    Initiatives within society level organizationsMobile DL (Dware Dware Gyan Sampada)

    Indian DL policyProblems of DLs in IndiaSome hard realities about IndiaConclusionReferences



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