Rare books with public libraries across Karnataka now at your fingertips.


Express News Service

BENGALURU: Apprehensive about picking up that old dusty book stacked in a corner of a government-run library that you’ve always wanted to read? Well, around 1.13 lakh books belonging to state libraries will be at your fingertips. The cloudbased digital library, the first of its kind in India, is available both online as well as through the ‘e-Sarvajanika Granthalaya’ mobile app and were launched on Wednesday. The two platforms enable members of libraries to read books online anywhere, anytime on an electronic device.

The project will also see digitisation of some of the rarest books published in the 15th century. At present, there are over 25 lakh members of libraries across the state who can now read e-books on their gadgets. Users will be given a login and password. This apart, the library digitisation project covers 272 public libraries including 26 city central libraries, 30 district central libraries and 216 taluk libraries which are equipped with dedicated computers with a wi-fi connection.

Interestingly, the books can be read online or through the app, but cannot be downloaded. “These are protected by digital rights management,’’ SR Umashankar, Principal Secretary (Primary and Secondary Education) said. Similar to borrowing books from a library, which have to be returned within a week, one can access e-books for a week.

Minister assures publishers that their biz won’t take a hit 

If a member wants to renew it, they have to inform their librarian.  The subscription fee is Rs 100 for one book, Rs 200 for two books and Rs 400 for three books per week. Presently, there are no additional charges for accessing e-books. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Suresh Kumar, who launched the initiative, said this is an attempt to bring government libraries to the fingertips of the reader using technology.

“It is a cultural shift. This is a milestone and with smartphones used widely these days, it will be like a library in everyone’s pocket.” He also assured publishers that it will not hamper their business. “State libraries will buy books from them,’’ he said.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, Satishkumar S Hosamani, Director, Public Libraries Department, said they have the rarest collection of books, some of which are printed way back in the 15th or 18th century. “We do not allow users to borrow these books, but now, one can access them online or on their mobile phones,’’ he said.

Libraries to open all year 
A few candidates preparing for the civil service exams at the Central Library in Hampinagar approached the minister to open the library on all 365 days to which he agreed. “For other libraries, based on demand, we will open them all 365 days of the year,’’ he said.

Minister to donate
Minister Suresh Kumar said the public library at Malleswaram was his second home as he used to spend a lot of his time there before he started buying books. “I will be donating my books to the library,’’ he said.

Among the old works that will go online
A History the Indian mutiny, by Forrest (1804)
Buddhist Record of the Western World, by Samuel Beal (1806)
A Memoir of Central India Including Malwa, by Sir John Malcolm (1824)

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