Public libraries are set for a major facelift, starting this year, under the National Mission on Libraries(NML) to check the dwindling footfalls and give a boost to reading habits.
"Public libraries have a crucial role in dissemination of knowledge and information. Through innovative ways, we are going to engage citizens in both physical and digital space and help them access reading material in print and electronic form with the help of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)," Ravindra Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Culture said.
Kolkata-based Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation is the nodal agency for the execution of this Rs 400 crore project which will modernise 629 district libraries in the country and connect them with each other. The project is scheduled to be launched by President Pranab Mukherjee on February 3 in Kolkata.
"We plan to accomplish this modernisation through a two-pronged strategy: improvement of infrastructure and upgradation of technology in libraries on the one hand and capacity building on the other," Singh said.
Libraries are set to have Wi-Fi enabled reading rooms with modern furniture, lighting system, carrels for scholars, senior citizens and specially abled persons, modern signage, power backup, purified drinking water equipment and washrooms.
"By providing reading material in different languages, we intend to facilitate universal access. As a part of the objective, libraries will be encouraged to create more digital resources by digitising relevant reading material in various languages. Our vision is to create a network of public libraries where information is digitised and easily exchanged," Banerjee said.