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Library as nation’s mirror

A two-day conference on the role of the National Library as a “mirror of the nation” and to review its service was held in the Bhasha Bhavan conference room on Monday and Tuesday.

Several speakers from across the country — including library and information science professionals, preservation and conservation experts and the directors of seven Central Libraries — spoke on The National Library as an Intellectual Resource: Challenges and Prospects.

NACONAL 2006, as the conference was called, was inaugurated by writer Mahasveta Devi.

“A primary reason for holding this conference was our realisation that even after the completion of 100 years, the National Library has not been functioning as it should have been,” pointed out P.B. Mangla, chairman of the organising committee and member of the board of management, NACONAL 2006.

“The library should act as an academic institution and a leader... as the apex body of the library system in India,” he added.

Kalpana Dasgupta, former principal library and information officer of the National Library, said: “No library in the world has the status of the National Library of India, but it’s a pity that such little planning has been undertaken in all these years. Since digitisation is so important, why is there no Act or policy for it' Also, the system of retro conversion needs to be implemented on a war footing.”

The library has begun retro conversion, a method of making the catalogues machine-readable.

“Around 1.5 lakh books have been retro converted. We want to emphasise the effectiveness of utilising information and communication technologies and equipping the staff members to help provide better service to members and users of the library,” said director Sudhendu Mandal.

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