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The International Information & Library Review (2006) 38, 161–169

The International
Information &
Library Review

www.elsevier.com/locate/iilr

Digital libraries initiatives in India
P.K. Jaina,, Parveen Babbarb

a
Institute of Economic Growth, University of Delhi Enclave, Delhi 110007, India
b
Indira Gandhi National Open University, Delhi, India

Summary Digital libraries (DLs) have evolved, and developments in information
technology have changed the concept of the library from one of print and paper
media to digital media. The success of a DL depends upon the computers,
communication skills, and knowledge of library professionals in connection with
modern technology. In the present scenario, we stand at a transition from the
traditional library to a global DL. The technology-based idea is to provide universal
access to digital content available only in a DL environment.
Today the emergence of digital technology and computer networks has provided a
means whereby information can be stored, retrieved, disseminated and duplicated
in a fast and efficient manner. On a global level, DLs have made considerable
advances both in technology and its application. India still has far to go if the nation
is to benefit from this movement. Only sporadic and partial attempts have been
made towards DL initiatives in India.
The basic objective of DL initiatives in India has been to preserve the art, culture
and heritage of this country. All projects aimed at creating DLs concentrate only on
specialized collections. The DL initiative in India is still at a nascent or embryonic
stage. But with the initiative like DL policy, it can also be said that the nation is
serious about DL implementation.
& 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction curricula in the changing environment. For DLs,
additional technology, education and training are
The role of the librarian and the information officer required.
is changing in the digital library (DL) situation. In India there are a number of university and
With the changing scenario each is required to institute libraries, which are in the process of
acquire new skills for developing and managing conversion into DLs. Library and information
the DLs. The departments of Library Sciences centres in the present time are digitizing their
and the library schools are re-designing their resources. The paper intends to propose various
aspects of evaluation of DLs initiatives in India.
Corresponding author. The advantage of having a DL is now well under-
E-mail addresses: pkjain@iegindia.org (P.K. Jain), parveen- stood by librarians, technologists, management and
babbar@ignou.ac.in (P. Babbar). users.

1057-2317/$ - see front matter & 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.iilr.2006.06.003
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162 P.K. Jain, P. Babbar

DL initiatives in India issues: The Long-Term National IT Policy’’ (National
Task Force on IT and Software Development, 2003)
The situation in India regarding DLs is very peculiar. shows us the commitment of the Government of
Generally, the use of Information Technology (IT) India to provide information to users in digital
and Information and Communication Technology form. The responsibility of envisioning, developing,
(ICT) in libraries in India is concentrated in and sustaining functional hybrid and virtual library
universities, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), and information systems and services rests on the
Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Indian library and information profession.
Institutes of Science (IIScs), research institutes
and some special libraries. Some government
agencies, as well as public-sector institutions, are DL of India
also engaged in digitization of libraries. But the There is a mission to create a portal for the digital
initiatives taken by the Government of India in this library of India (DLI) piloted by the Office of the
direction indicate that the potential of ICTs for Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of
developing DLs has not been fully realized. While India, Ministry of Communication and Information
one government agency is providing support for one Technology (MCIT) with IISc and Carnegie Mellon
particular aspect, the other is focusing elsewhere, University, USA, as partners.
without any coordinated effort by a nodal agency. The mission is to create a portal for the DLI which
The concept of DLs in the developed countries will foster creativity and free access to all human
started during the 1970s, but in India it began in the knowledge. As a first step in realizing this mission,
mid-1990s with the advent of IT on a large scale and it is proposed to create the DL with a free-to-read,
the support extended by the central government. searchable collection of one million books, pre-
The advent of the Internet acted as a catalyst for dominantly in Indian languages, available to every-
DL initiatives. The basic objective of DL initiatives one over the Internet. This portal will also become
in India has been to preserve the art, culture and an aggregator of all the knowledge and digital
heritage of this country. All projects aimed at contents created by other DL initiatives in India.
creating DLs concentrate only on specialized This portal would provide a gateway to Indian DLs in
collections. The DL initiative in India is still at a science, arts, culture, music, movies, traditional
nascent or embryonic stage. medicine, palm leaves and many more. The result
The concept was recognized in India during the will be a unique resource accessible to anyone in
Fifteenth Annual Convention and Conference on the world 24  7, without regard to socioeconomic
Digital Libraries, organized by the Society of background or nationality.
Information Science at Bangalore from 18 to 20 One of the goals of the DLI is to provide support
January 1996. A few libraries had made attempts in for full text indexing and searching based on optical
this direction earlier. character recognition (OCR) technologies, where
Only sporadic and partial attempts have been available. The availability of online search allows
made towards DL initiatives. Simplistic approaches users to locate relevant information quickly and
have been taken in the libraries, such as getting a reliably thus enhancing students’ success in their
few databases on CD-ROM, subscribing to a few research endeavours. This 24  7 resource would
e-journals, scanning a few documents, or creating also provide an excellent test bed for language
Adobe Acrobat files and installing these on an processing research in areas such as machine
intranet. But this scenario is changing at a snail’s translation, OCR, summarization, speech and hand-
pace, and it has to gain momentum to survive in the writing recognition, intelligent indexing, and in-
competitive world. formation retrieval in Indian languages.
DL initiatives in India were started basically for It is expected that the DLI will be mirrored at
preservation of the art, culture and heritage of the several locations worldwide so as to protect the
country. The categorization of DL initiatives in India integrity and availability of the data. The DLI will
may be listed as follows. also partner with other country specific DL initia-
tives as part of the Universal Library Project
(www.ulib.org) spearheaded by Prof. Raj Reddy
Initiatives at the government level and Carnegie Mellon University.
The current status of scanning centres of DLI
Both the Union Government and the state govern- shows that approx 24.521 million pages have been
ments of India have taken considerable initiatives scanned at various centres in India. It shows that
towards the development of DLs. ‘‘Support of approximately 80,240 books have been scanned
Government of India towards DL initiatives-policy (Table 1).
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Digital libraries initiatives in India 163

Table 1 Number of books and pages scanned, by  make theses available online (as per the restric-
language. tions desired by the doctoral students) and
help enhance the visibility of Indian doctoral
Figures by language research,
Language No of books No. of pages
 offer tools and resources to strengthen and
augment the research capacities of doctoral
English 49,674 17,456,701 students and universities,
Telugu 14,063 2,804,200  enhance the quality of doctoral research in India
Hindi 6318 1,458,386 by developing and using standard formats and
Urdu 2977 719,523 templates,
Tamil 1550 396,021  mould ‘best practices’ in scholarship and scho-
Sanskrit 1485 510,340 larly writing among students, and
Persian 1000 245,727  prepare the doctoral students in e-publishing,
Multi 699 198,158
e-scholarship and DLs by offering training pro-
Others 704 220,350
Arabic 617 198,552 grammes and online tutorials.
Kannada 586 140,585
Marathi 363 90,947 The Vidyanidhi DL is conceived as having two
German 121 46,803 layers—metadata database and full text of theses.
French 63 24,770 They are currently focusing on building both these
Oriya 5 6978 layers. Currently it has nearly 50,000 records in the
Bengali 4 713 metadata database and 300 full text theses. The
Spanish 4 17 Vidyanidhi metadata database is a truly multi-
Italian 3 1172 lingual database with records in English and Indian
Greek 1 539 languages as well. Vidyanidhi has implemented the
Gujarati 1 52
Unicode standard for Indian languages and scripts.
Irish 1 538
Russian 1 73
Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL)
Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is a
collaborative project between the National Insti-
Vidyanidhi tute of Science Communication and Information
Vidyanidhi began as a pilot project in the year 2000 Resources (NISCAIR), the Council of Scientific and
with support from the National Information System Industrial Research (CSIR) of the Ministry of Science
for Science and Technology (NISSAT) and the and Technology, and the Department of Ayurveda,
Government of India’s Department of Scientific Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeo-
and Industrial Research (DSIR). Vidyanidhi demon- pathy (AYUSH) of the Ministry of Health and Family
strated the feasibility of e-theses programmes in Welfare, which is being implemented at the
India. With support from the Ford Foundation and National Institute of Science Communication and
also from Microsoft India, Vidyanidhi is evolving as a Information Resources (NISCAIR). An inter-disciplin-
national initiative. ary team of traditional medicine (Ayurveda, Unani,
Vidyanidhi (meaning ‘Treasure of Knowledge’ in Siddha, Yoga) experts, patent examiners, IT ex-
Sanskrit) is India’s premier DL initiative to facilitate perts, scientists and technical officers are involved
the creation, archiving and accessing of doctoral in creation of TKDL for Indian systems of medicine.
theses. Vidyanidhi is an information infrastructure, The project TKDL involves documentation of the
a DL, a portal of resources, tools and facilities for knowledge available in public domain on traditional
doctoral research in India. Vidyanidhi is envisioned knowledge from the existing literature related to
to evolve as a national repository and a consortium Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha, in digitized format in
for e-theses through participation and partnership five international languages which are English,
with universities, academic institutions and other German, French, Japanese and Spanish. Traditional
stake holders. Vidyanidhi enhances access to Indian Knowledge Resource Classification (TKRC), an in-
theses and enlarges the reach and audience for novative structured classification system for the
Indian doctoral research works. purpose of systematic arrangement, dissemination
The mission of Vidyanidhi project is to and retrieval has been evolved for about 10,500
subgroups against one group in International Patent 
develop a repository for Indian doctoral theses, Classification (IPC), e.g. AK61K35/78 related to 
digitize, archive and improve access to doctoral medicinal plants. Present status of TKDL is re-
theses in India, flected in Table 2.
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164 P.K. Jain, P. Babbar

Table 2 Present status of TKDL. Samadhan Kendras/Soochanalaya Gumtis: In
Madhya Pradesh, a regional network connects 21
Discipline Target (no. of Achieved rural cybercafes called Soochanalayas. Each Soo-
formulations) chanalaya provides services for about 10–15 village
(Gram) Panchayat (a cluster of 20–30 villages) with
Ayurveda 59,000 59,000
an aggregate population of 20,000–30,000 people.
Unani 77,000 51,000
Siddha 10,000 — The network covers 5 of 13 blocks and 3 of 7 tehsils
Yoga 1500 — in the district. Soochanalayas are located at block
headquarters, haat (main) bazaars, villages and bus
Total 147,500 110,000 depot centres. The Soochanalayas are located on
the roadside of the central villages where people
normally travel. They together serve a population
At present, TKDL contains 11.0 million pages of of over half a million.
information in five international languages. A local matriculate operator called a ‘‘soochak’’
operates the cybercafes. The soochak is not a
Gyandoot government employee but rather a local volunteer.
Gyandoot (meaning ‘‘messenger of knowledge’’) is The soochak takes out a bank loan to buy the
a new intranet-based DL in the Dhar district of the computer, modem and printer while the Panchayat
state of Madhya Pradesh connecting rural public covers the cost of the phone line. Villagers pay a
cybercafes. A corresponding website is an exten- nominal amount for each service, usually less than
sion of Gyandoot intranet providing giving global US 50 cents for any service and there is a set price
access via a portal. Gyandoot was conceived in a list. The soochak keeps 90% of the fees with a 10%
discussion with the Secretary, Information Technol- commission passed back to the Panchayat for new
ogy, Government of Madhya Pradesh on November service development and increasing system capa-
11, 1999. The pilot project was launched on city. With the soochak approach, cybercafes are
November 29, 1999 and it was officially commis- providing self-employment through entrepreneur-
sioned on January 1, 2000. Thus, from concept to ship to local rural youth.
commissioning, the entire Gyandoot DL project was
executed in the short space of 51 days for a cost of
$57,000 USD. Indian National Digital Library in Engineering
Gyandoot is a unique form of government to Science and Technology (INDEST) consortium
citizen (G2C) DL activity to address the hardship
imposed by transaction costs associated with The Ministry of Human Resource Development
government services. Located in central India, (MHRD) has set-up the INDEST consortium on the
agriculture and industry are the twin mainstays of recommendation made by the expert group ap-
business. Close to four thousand million rupees pointed by the ministry under the chairmanship of
(90 M USD) worth of agricultural commodities are the Prof. N. Balakrishnan. The Ministry provides
transacted annually, principally soya, cotton, and funds required for subscription to electronic re-
wheat. Indore is the largest automobile centre in sources for 38 institutions including IISc, IITs, NITs,
Asia. The local elected governing council (District IIMs and a few other centrally funded government
Panchayat, Dhar) is enabling over half a million institutions through the consortium headquarters
rural citizens affordable access to various govern- set-up at the IIT Delhi. Also, 44 government or
ment and market-related needs through state-of- government-aided engineering colleges and tech-
the-art IT kiosks. nical departments in universities have joined the
consortium with financial support from the All-India
Samadhan Kendras Council for Technical Education (AICTE). Moreover,
In order to turn food producers/consumers into the INDEST Consortium, as an open-ended proposi-
information producers/consumers, the Indian gov- tion, welcomes other institutions to join it on their
ernment is making efforts for the establishment of own for sharing benefits it offers in terms of highly
‘‘Samadhan Kendras’’ (SKF Rural Support Centres) discounted rates of subscription and better terms
and ‘‘Soochana Gumtis’’ (SG—Information Kiosks) of agreement with the publishers. All electronic
in the list of industries eligible for loans under resources being subscribed are available from the
various programs. DLs are being used for the public publishers’ websites. The consortium has an active
grievances redressal systems of the state govern- mailing list and a website hosted at the IIT, Delhi.
ments through SG facilitation counters in govern- The INDEST consortium is the most ambitious
ment offices. initiative taken so far in the country. The benefit of
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Digital libraries initiatives in India 165

consortium-based subscriptions to electronic re- instant reference needs of members, officers and
sources is not confined to 38 major technological research and reference personnel were initially
institutions in the country but is also extended to developed by the computer centre. The data stored
all AICTE-accredited and UGC-affiliated institu- and available now in PARLIS databases for online
tions. Ninety-nine engineering colleges and institu- retrieval relates to:
tions have already joined the consortium on their
own.  parliamentary questions (full texts of questions
INDEST consortium presently includes the Asso- and answers since February 2000; indexes from
ciation for Computing Machinery (ACM) DL, Amer- 1985 to 2000 are also available);
ican Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) journals,  parliamentary proceedings other than questions
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) (full text of floor versions since the winter
journals, Academy of Management Review (AMR), session of 1993; indexes from 1985 to 1993 are
Capitaline, Euromonitor, Global Market Information also available);
Database (GMID), Institute for Educational Leader-  government and private members’ bills from
ship (IEL) Online, Indian Standards, Nature, Pro- 1985 onwards (only indexes);
Quest Science, Science Direct, Springer Link and  directions, decisions and observations from the
bibliographic databases Compendex, Inspec, and chair, from 1952 onwards;
MathSciNet.  president’s rule in the states and union terri-
tories, from 1951;
CSIR consortium  members of council of ministers from 1947
NISCAIR is the nodal organization for developing a onwards;
consortium for the CSIR laboratories for accessing  obituary references made in the houses since
e-journals. The activities shall range from creation provisional parliament;
to monitoring of the access facilities of scientific  library management functions such as acquisi-
periodicals published by leading international tion, processing and issue and return of books
institutions. To start with, an agreement has been have also been computerized using the software
signed with Elsevier Science for a period of four package named ‘‘LIBSYS.’’ A Web-based library
years for 1200 journals. Under this scheme, CSIR catalogue can also be accessed through Internet;
scientists shall be able to access these journals and  documentation service (from 1989 onwards)
download material for their use. Such access to (important articles published in books, reports,
worldwide journal resources playing a very vital periodicals and newspapers are indexed
role and strengthening research and development and annotated and can be accessed through
in CSIR laboratories, thus leading to knowledge Internet).
generation useful for socio-economic development
of the country. The objectives are:
Initiatives at academic institutions of 
to strengthen the pooling, sharing and electronic
national importance
access to the CSIR library resources, 
to provide access to world S&T literature to CSIR
IIT, New Delhi
labs, and
The commitment to DL initiatives and the emphasis 
to nucleate the culture of electronic access
upon Web-based digitized collections at the Central
resulting into evolution of DLs.
Library, IIT Delhi commenced in 1998 with the
installation of a fibre optics-based campus LAN
To date, CSIR has entered into agreement with 11 connected to a 2 Mbps VSNL radio link enabling
publishers to access about 3316 international faster Internet access for the academic community
journals across the labs. of the Institute. The availability of the high-speed
Internet connection has led to the launching of a
Initiatives at national level institutions number of sponsored and un-sponsored projects for
developing network-based digitized collections at
Parliament library the Central Library, IIT, Delhi.
A DL has been set up in the computer centre to IITs are fortunate enough to receive generous
cater to the needs of members of Parliament and grants and projects from government bodies such
officers and staff of Lok Sabha Secretariat. A large as AICTE (All India Council of Technical Education)
number of index-based databases of information and the Ministry of Human Resources Development
generated within the Parliament which cater to the and Management (MHRD) to develop their DLs.
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166 P.K. Jain, P. Babbar

A number of online coursewares have been devel- databases for the latest R&D, commercial and
oped. Digitization of old volumes of journals at IIT market information. National Science Library of
Delhi is just one example of projects supported by NISCAIR has an Electronic Library Division with a
the government. rich collection of more than 5000 foreign journals,
conference proceedings, etc. and a large number of
Indian Institute of Science databases on CD-ROMs. NISCAIR is the nodal agency
A project proposal for NSF support under the Indo- for developing a consortium for CSIR laboratories
US Science and Technology Collaboration initiative for accessing e-journals. The activity shall range
has been made by IISc. The IISc, Bangalore would from creation to monitoring of the access facility of
act as a nodal agency to coordinate amongst scientific periodicals published by leading interna-
various academic institutions and governmental tional institutions.
agencies from the Indian side. The Carnegie Mellon
University would play the same role from the US National Tuberculosis Institute, Bangalore
side. On 28th October, 2003, the National Tuberculosis
The aim of the project is to digitize around a Institute – Bangalore, under the initative and with
million books in the next three years. This joint the support of the Health InterNetwork Project,
initiative is planned to synergistically capitalize on India – TB, launched a DL. This DL was comprised of
the availability of the state-of-the-art of hardware CDs on tuberculosis (TB), made available as ready
and software in the US for digitizing, storing and reference tools for programme workers at the
accessing of information and the quality personnel District and Primary Health Center Levels. The
available in India. This would act as a forerunner CDs on TB have relevant Revised National Tubercu-
for many such initiatives with other countries, losis Control Programme (RNTCP) documents and
particularly in China and Korea, and would culmi- scientific literature on programme, treatment,
nate in the grandiose vision of digitizing all the drug resistance and control aspects of TB.
formal knowledge and make available in a location
and time independent way for the benefit of the
mankind. In order to take a million books to the Digitization of art and culture
Web, it is estimated that around 1000 man-years
would be needed. If the project is carried out in a Centre for Development of Advanced Computing
developed country like the United States of (C-DAC)—DL of art masterpieces
America, it would cost at least around 40 M $ This is the first initiative of its kind in Asia and it
besides the cost of the hardware, space and energy. will digitize 200 rare paintings of Rabindranath
Tagore and Amrita Shergill from National Gallery of
National Institute of Technology, Calicut Modern Arts (NGMA). A DL will be created using the
Nalanda, the DL initiated in 1999 at the National tool Digital Library Application Suite (DLAS), devel-
Institute of Technology, Calicut, is one of the oped by the DL Group, to make the art accessible to
largest DLs in the country. Nalanda serves members a global audience via the World Wide Web. The
of the campus in meeting their academic and infrastructure to host this DL would be located at
research needs by providing timely and up-to-date the C-DAC Bangalore.
information with value added services in all the C-DAC and Hewlett Packard launched the joint
areas of science, engineering, and technology. initiative ‘‘When Art Meets Technology’’ for digital
Apart from the DL reading room, members can preservation, restoration and dissemination of art
access the Nalanda from the entire campus. from the NGMA at Bangalore on February 04, 2003.

NISCAIR (formerly INSDOC) Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts
NISCAIR is slowly shifting to electronic libraries that (IGNCA)—Kalasampada
will eventually lead to the establishment of DLs. IGNCA has taken up the Kalasampada Digital
With decreasing shelf space and ever growing Library—Resource for Indian Cultural Heritage
collections in the libraries, NISCAIR has been (DL-RICH) project which is sponsored by MCIT.
advocating the conversion of automated libraries This project aims to use multimedia computer
into electronic libraries. technology to develop a software package that
NISCAIR has access to international databases. integrates a variety of cultural information and
Information is obtained through online searching helps the users to interact and explore the subjects
from over 1500 international databases. Skilled available in image, audio, text, graphics, animation
personnel at NISCAIR perform searches for research and video on a computer in a non-linear mode, by a
scientists and the corporate sector who use these click of mouse.
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Digital libraries initiatives in India 167

Kalasampada, a unique project of its kind, will project will be time-bound and implemented at
facilitate the students, scholars, artists and the one of the suitable existing libraries to serve as
research and scientific community to access and a model. The software so developed can be
view the materials. These materials include several distributed to other organizations to accelerate
hundred thousand manuscripts, over a hundred the development of DLs in the country.
thousand slides, thousands of rare books, photo- (2) India is known for its rich and diverse cultural
graphs, audio and video along with highly re- heritage. It also possesses a vast wealth of
searched publications of IGNCA, all accessible traditional knowledge. These are mostly in
from a single window. Indian languages and should be promoted and
The system aims to be a digital repository of preserved for posterity. The government will
content and information with a user-friendly inter- therefore take initiatives through appropriate
face. The knowledge base created will help the projects to create electronic images of infor-
scholars to explore and visualize the information mation on Indian arts and culture for wider
stored in multiple layers. This will provide a new dissemination and research.
dimension in the study of the Indian art and (3) It will be mandatory for all the universities or
culture, in an integrated way, while giving due deemed universities in the country to host
importance to each medium. every dissertation or thesis submitted for
research degrees on a designated website.
Initiatives within society level organizations (4) National, regional and other public libraries will
be required to develop databases of their
Mobile DL (Dware Dware Gyan Sampada) holdings that will be hosted on a designated
This is a product from C-DAC Noida. The mission of website for free access to users.
the project is an Internet-enabled mobile DL (5) An effective copyright protection system is a
brought to common citizens with the purpose of prerequisite for development of creative works
spreading literacy. C-DAC Noida (Department of IT, in electronic media. Therefore, the Indian
MCIT) contributes to bringing digitized books to the copyright law should be strengthened in this
doorsteps of common citizens. It makes use of a direction. Further, there is a need for global
mobile van with a satellite connection for con- harmonization of copyright laws. The conclu-
nectivity to the Internet. The van is fitted with a sion of the trade-related aspects of intellectual
printer, scorer, cutter and binding machine for property rights (TRIPSs) agreement and the two
providing bound books to the end user. Different World Intellectual Proprietary Organization
places, such as schools in villages and other remote (WIPO) treaties will be adopted for such
areas, will be covered under this programme to harmonization.
promote literacy and demonstrate the use of
technology for the masses. The schedule of visits From the points listed above it can be said that
of the mobile DL is made available on their website. the nation is serious about DL implementation.
Books formatted for book printing may be selected
from the website by language, author and title.
There are about 350 books in Hindi and English
which will be available for download through this Problems of DLs in India
website. The site is bilingual (English and Hindi).
There are many problems associated with DL
development in India.
Indian DL policy The lack of interest on the part of parent
institutions and the absence of action plans or
The National Task Force on IT and Software priorities are major hindrances. Though the com-
Development (2003) has given some valuable puter and communication infrastructure is improv-
recommendations for development of DLs in the ing considerably in India, its availability for
country. These recommendations have been cov- information-based activity is not appreciated to a
ered in the report under the IT Action Plan (Part III) noticeable extent by the higher authorities in
for the content creation and content industry. The organizations. Even in places where the infrastruc-
salient features of the recommendations are listed ture is available, there is an acute shortage of
below: competent personnel to take up the task of
digitizing local content and creating digital infor-
(1) A pilot project on DL development, based on mation repositories. The students, faculty, curricu-
indigenous software, will be initiated. The lum and training methodology at the disposal of
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168 P.K. Jain, P. Babbar

India’s library schools must be visibly improved to population have completed a minimum of 10 years
meet this challenge. of schooling and are capable of utilizing ICTs,
Coupled with this, steps should be taken to re- including DLs. The Internet is accessed by 0.37%
train the existing staff. The increasing interest in of users in India, most of whom are from the
library website development and the migration of professional and corporate sector or schools and
information sources and services to the Web should colleges in urban areas.
be treated as stepping-stones in DL development. Bridging the poverty gap and decreasing the
Libraries should judiciously utilize enhanced infor- digital divide requires all-round development. Any
mation access options, such as Web access to developmental activity requires information and
subscribed journals. The digital resources thus adequate information for planners and is simply not
accessed will contribute much to research activ- available for individuals. Villagers need information
ities in India by reducing some of the existing for agricultural production and marketing their
barriers to information communication, such as produce. Traditional library service needs to be
time and space. The growth of the software supplemented by electronic resources making use
industry in India, as a result of a large increase in of IT, computers and communication. Most of the
computer penetration, a sudden increase in skilled villagers still depend upon voice telephony as an
personnel and a sizeable improvement in commu- important means of information transfer.
nication infrastructure, should be channelled by
concerned and authorized information profes-
sionals to create and maintain digital information
facilities to usher in the new information age. Conclusion
One of the major constraints in digitization is the
digital divide. Access to DLs is dependent upon The time has come for a systematic approach in
hardware and software requirements. Therefore, establishing a DL system in India. There are already
the information is only available to people from many discrete projects on the digitization and
affluent communities who meet the necessary distribution of electronic data underway in India, as
requirements. As a result, information and knowl- has been described in this paper.
edge sharing are not provided fairly, and all the The vision of Indian DLs should be to create an
people may not have similar qualities of informa- Indian information infrastructure in which the
tion access. resources of universities, governments, businesses
and industry are linked to form a cohesive national
digitized information service. The service will
provide seamless access to sources across different
Some hard realities about India systems using a variety of formats, and thereby
achieve cost-effective development of a more
According to a 2002 World Bank Report (Petkoski,
competitive Indian research enterprise.
2002, p. 26):
DLs initiatives in India are still at a nascent stage
of development. With the advent of the Internet 
A quarter of the world’s poverty is in India, and World Wide Web, DL development in India 
3 computers / 1000 people; and encounters new challenges. DL initiatives in India 
Nearly 250 million children in the country do not began with the goal of preservation of art, culture
have access to computers. and heritage of the country. The digital environ-
ment in the Indian context is a new concept that
So, inadequacy of information for the rural became a reality through projects funded by the
masses is one major hindrance in the path of DL. government. The long-term national IT policy
There are 600,000 villages in India. 240,000 of them shows us the commitment of the government of
do not have proper roads, 180,000 do not have India to providing information to users in digital
primary schools, 450,000 have inadequate drinking form, and that the responsibility of envisioning,
water, and 140,000 have no proper dwelling developing and sustaining functional hybrid and
facility. 70% of India’s population of one thousand virtual library and information systems and services
million lives in villages. Lack of health education, rests on the library and information professions.
poor communication infrastructure and unemploy- The successful implementation of the INDEST
ment are problems plaguing Indian villages. The Consortia in IITs, RECs and IIMs shows the progress
digital divide is nowhere more prominent than in of Indian DL initiatives. The CSIR e-journals
India. The average literacy rate is 62.38%. A total of consortia also show the benefits of DL initiatives.
26.1% of the urban and 10.8% of the rural From the examples of DLs initiatives in India, it can
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Digital libraries initiatives in India 169

be said that there are a few projects, such as TKDL, Magazine. Retrieved June 5, 2006, from http://www.dlib.
that can develop into examples for others to follow. org.ar/dlib/july98/07griffin.html
IEEE Computer Society. (1996). A special issue on digital library
initiatives. May 1996.
International Conference on Digital Libraries. (2004). Knowledge
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