India is poised to gain its pace of socio-cultural and economic development with the launch of the ambitious National Mission on Libraries (NML) today, President Shri Pranab Mukherjee said.
Hoping that the NML — a lofty initiative of the Ministry of Culture to modernise and digitally link public libraries across the country — would ensure upgradation of libraries providing services to the public, he said effective knowledge creation and deployment could lead to societal transformation and wealth generation.
“I am sure the NML will promote enlightenment and understanding and go a long way in making the masses active participants in the affairs of the nation,” he said at the function convened at Rashtrapati Bhavan to launch the NML which entails an expenditure of Rs 400 crore during the 12th Plan period (2012-17).
Shri Mukherjee also inaugurated the NML’s guidelines, logo and website in the presence of Culture Minister Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch and senior officials of the ministry.
The President particularly stressed the importance of the proposed creation of a National Virtual Library of India (NVLI) in the national capital, noting that it would provide equitable and universal access to knowledge resources.
The NVLI would provide digital resources “by digitizing reading material in different languages, which would be shared at all levels”, he noted.
Its target users would not only be students, researchers, doctors and professionals but also the educationally, socially, economically and physically disadvantaged groups. “Thus, it would empower people with information in order to create a knowledge society and ensure preservation of digital content for posterity,” ShrI Mukherjee said.
The NML would work towards launching model libraries — thus setting a benchmark. “These model libraries would be facilitated with subscription of e-journals and e-book services through Web VPN services developed by National Informatics Centre. These would be also be provided with reading resources to meet the local needs,” he pointed out.
The President hailed the NML for its plans to conduct a holistic professional and personal development programme for library professionals through capacity building. For, capacity building “is a necessary investment in people, organizations and services to enhance operating efficiency, expertise and skills of personnel towards the achievement of organizational excellence, he noted.
In her presidential address, Minister Smt Katoch noted that automation of libraries had become imperative to meet the demands of the digital era.
She noted that the NML was set up in pursuance of a report of the National Knowledge Commission which strongly recommended revamping the Library and Information Service sector. The Union Cabinet gave it the stamp of approval at a meeting, presided over by Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, on November 28 last year.
Shri Deepak Paintal, Chairman of the High-Level Committee on the NML, outlined the policy objectives and the roadmap to their implementation.
Shri Ravindra Singh, Secretary to the Union Ministry of Culture, welcomed the gathering, while Shri V Srinivas, Joint Secretary, proposed thanks.
The NML would strive to develop six libraries under the Culture Ministry, 35 Central Libraries in states and as many District Libraries 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.
The revamped libraries would catalogue not just books and journals but also all policies of the government in public domain to facilitate easy access and research work.
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.
Kolkata-based Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation is the nodal agency for the implementation of NML, which is a 10-member body headed by Prof. Pental, a former Vice Chancellor of Delhi University.