Mumbai: The Ministry of Culture, Government of India set up the National Mission on Libraries in 2012 to ensure sustained attention to the development of Libraries and the Information Science Sector.
The National Mission on Libraries has, as one of it’s activities, created the National Virtual Library of India (NVLI), a project whose purpose is to facilitate creation of a searchable comprehensive database of digital resources on information pertaining to India. The effort is directed primarily to provide searchable access to digital assets, primarily related to Indian culture and knowledge. The NVLI project is coordinated by IIT Bombay, and executed by IIT Bombay, C-DAC Pune and IGNOU.
The activity comprises two main blocks – (a) collection and curation of digital assets from libraries, museums and other resource points and (b) development of a portal that will provide facilities to search and display the digital assets.
Also, an integral part of the NVLI project is the capacity building and training on Koha and other open source digital library software to all librarians across the country.
The Train 10 Thousand Librarians (T10KL) programme was launched from the Electronic Media Production Centre at IGNOU on 12th October 2018 by the Vice Chancellor of IGNOU, Prof Nageshwar Rao, in the presence of Prof Kannan Moudgalya of IIT Bombay, the Principal Investigator of NVLI, and Prof Uma Kanjilal, Professor in the Faculty of Library and Information Science, IGNOU.
In a first for the country, 2,500 Librarians across the nation participated through 98 Remote Centres of IIT Bombay, located in 19 states, and received Koha training. For the purposes of this workshop, the methodology created and proved in the Train 10 Thousand Teachers programme by IIT Bombay was used.
A Librarian and a System Administrator from every Remote Centre was initially trained on the USE of Koha and the INSTALLATION of Koha in a Coordinator Workshop conducted at IIT Bombay. These two, in turn, imparted this knowledge in their Centre for librarians and system administrators from nearby libraries. On an average, 25 people received training in each Remote Centre. The open source software A-VIEW, developed by Amrita University, with funding from government bodies, provided the audio-video interaction capability between the 100 Remote Centres, IIT Bombay and IGNOU. The actual training was carried out through the Spoken Tutorial methodology.
Spoken Tutorials are 10 minute long audio-video tutorials, created for self-learning. All tutorials go through a rigorous checking and validation process. Any user with a basic computer and a dial-up connection can access and learn from these videos. They can also be downloaded for off-line use. These tutorials are available in all 22 Indian languages.
Prof. Uma Kanjilal welcomed the Vice Chancellor of IGNOU and all participants. She highlighted that the setting up of the National Virtual Library of India, the capacity building of librarians, the survey of public libraries and the setting up model libraries in districts and states were the 4 aims delineated under the National Mission on Libraries, which was launched in February 2014. Towards this, the NVLI project has taken up the task of training the librarians of India, especially those in public libraries to use Koha, a free and open source library management software. She pointed out that Koha supports almost all international standards used by library professionals like MARC 21, UNIMARC, RFID, FRBR, etc., leaving the user to focus solely on activities such as cataloguing, issue, charging, discharging, renewal, and procurement. The software is scalable, meets almost all requirements of a library and has new updated versions every 6 months.
Prof. Kannan, speaking about T10KL said that this technology has made India a small country as anyone from any corner of the country with a 2 mbps internet connection, an open source Operating System and a laptop can participate in the interaction sessions as if they are face to face.
Prof. Nageshwar Rao, while launching the workshop welcomed this initiative which reaches out to librarians across India and will enable them to create digital catalogues of their collections.
After the hands-on workshop was completed at the end of the day on 12 October 2018, many librarians from about 64 Centres participated in the live interaction with experts. They have asked for help in establishing a Koha resource that they can use remotely and also for help to computerisation of their catalogue. The NVLI team shall establish Koha on Cloud for public libraries. Help will be given through the Ask a Question platform, wherein library experts will answer Koha related questions every Tuesday, 4 to 5pm.
Combining the reach of T10KL and the efficacy of Spoken Tutorials, Koha training can revolutionize libraries in India.