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Gates open up for library to go digital

Gen-Y bibliophiles can now look forward to visiting the 132-year-old Bihar Hitaishi Library.

The library — one of the oldest in the state — would get monetary assistance from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and turn into an e-library. It would also provide free computer training.

The library’s visitors’ register boasts of names like former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the late Harivansh Rai Bachchan, the author of Madhushala.

The foundation would also help the district central libraries at Bettiah and Munger. The foundation would execute the scheme under its global libraries development programme. The project was launched this year on a pilot basis in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The foundation takes help of the Gramin Evam Nagar Vikas Parishad and the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) to execute the project.

The foundation would sponsor the project, while Nasscom and Gramin Evam Nagar Vikas Parishad would take care of technical support and implementation, respectively.

Hammad Abedin, assistant manager, Nasscom, said: “There would be digitalisation of all books in the library. We want to change it into an e-library so that its resources could be utilised properly. At present, the library does not get many visitors. Various kinds of activities have been planned for round the year. The library would be used to impart free computer training and 10 computers have already been provided to the library for this purpose.”

Officials of Bihar Hitaishi Library are naturally happy that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has chosen their library. “Kharachlal Agrawal, a Patna City-based businessman-cum-social activist established this library in 1882 at Hiranand Shah Ki Gali in Patna City. The library boasts of around 53,000 rare collections of books and magazines. However, the footfall is not very good. The foundation’s help would help this library regain its past glory,” said Mahendra Arora, the general secretary of Bihar Hitaishi Library.

Divulging details on the collection of the library, Arora said: “David Jones’s Anathemata is present in our library. We also have a copy of Washington Square written by Henry James. We also have The Sword in the Stone, by T.H. White. The Portrait of a Lady, a novel penned by Henry James in 1981 is also available here.”


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