President Mukherjee to launch National Mission on Libraries on Feb 3

President Shri Pranab Mukherjee will launch the National Mission on Libraries (NML), an ambitious and lofty initiative of the Ministry of Culture to modernise and digitally link public libraries across the country, at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan on February 3.

On the occasion, Shri Mukherjee will formally inaugurate the NML’s guidelines, logo and website in the presence of Culture Minister Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch and senior officials of the ministry, a top bureaucrat revealed today.

Nine important constituents of the NML ( include upgradation of infrastructure, digitization and modernisation, census of libraries and their development as knowledge centres and transformation of libraries into empowering and inclusive institutions, Mr V Srinivas, Joint Secretary with the Union Ministry of Culture, told a press conference here.

Approved by the government in November last year, NML was set up in pursuance of a report of the National Knowledge Commission, which recommended a total revamp of the Library and Information Service sector to serve the changing needs and expectations of the users and give a fillip to the library movement in the country. “The NML plans to build a knowledge society by bringing in libraries across the country on a single platform,” Mr Srinivas pointed out.

Under the scheme, six libraries under the Culture Ministry, 35 Central Libraries in states and 35 District Libraries will be developed as model libraries. Emphasis will on developing these libraries in economically backward districts. Further, 628 district libraries across the states would be provided network connectivity. For setting up of the model libraries, existing libraries would be identified in consultation with the state governments to improve infrastructure and upgrade technology used by them.

NML also intends to create a National Virtual Library of India in the national capital to facilitate a comprehensive database on digital resources, carry out a census on the resources available in the libraries and conduct a study on the reading habits in different regions of the country.

In the revamped libraries, cataloguing will be done not only of books and journals but also of all policies of the government in public domain to facilitate easy access and research work. Efforts will also be made to provide reading material in a multilingual mode.

Besides upgrading the infrastructure of public libraries, a major component of NML is to initiating need-based training programmes to develop managerial skills and IT competencies of their personnel in tune with demands of the Internet era.

The chief objectives of NML are to create a world class library system, foster reading habits, facilitate research work and provide information to people in a timely and convenient manner which is also universal and equitable.

The execution of the scheme will entail an expenditure of Rs 400 crore during the 12th Plan period (2012-17), and it is designed to benefit the entire spectrum of population — students, researchers, scientists, professionals, children, artists and differently abled persons. While the survey of libraries would be completed within one year, the other objectives of the scheme would be achieved by the end of the 12th Plan period.

Kolkata-based Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation is the nodal agency for the implementation of NML, a 10-member body headed by Prof. Deepak Pental, former Vice Chancellor of Delhi University.