The National Library authorities are planning to computerise about 25 lakh rare documents within two years.
“A tender was floated for the purpose and we are now busy selecting the bidder for the job,” Ramanuj Bhattacharjee, officer-on-special duty (OSD), said on Monday.
Bhattacharjee said that he had initiated measures to make the library more reader-friendly and computerisation of about 25 lakh rare documents was part of the plan to provide more facilities to readers and scholars.
“Once we manage to computerise all our valuable documents we will be able to serve scholars abroad better, as we have plans to put all those documents on our website. I feel that any foreign scholar interested in knowing Indian history, culture and heritage will find it easy to access our website,” Bhattacharjee said.
Sources in the library, however, feel that the authorities might find it difficult to complete the job of computerising all the documents within the next two years because of inadequate staff.
Sources claimed that 257 posts have been lying vacant in the library since 1993. As a result, lakhs of books have not been catalogued and readers cannot use these.
The National Library Staff Association (NLSA) held a meeting with Bhattacharjee last week and demanded the vacant posts be filled up immediately. Bhattacharjee said he will take up the issue with the human resources development ministry in Delhi.
“But I don’t think we should have any problem in completing the job within the stipulated period,” he added.
“The National Library is not getting complimentary copies from many city-based publishers. According to them, paying a fine of only Rs 50 for violation of the Delivery of Books Act is not at all an effective measure against the errant publishers,” Bhattacharjee added.
He said that heads of all the major libraries in the country held a meeting with the publishers in Delhi on March 17 to inform them of the government’s plan to introduce some changes in the Delivery of Books Act.
“Since the existing Act does not provide any strict punishment for errant publishers, many of them hardly bother to go by it and hand over copies of their publication to the National Library,” Bhattacharjee explained.
“We told publishers that they need not send their publication to all the four major libraries in the country from now on. They have to submit their publication to any of the libraries. We don’t want the publishers to face any financial loss. So, we have told them to pick the library of their choice,” the OSD added.