Asia's first open-access library of RTI documents inaugurated recently will help to put more information in the public domain

In order to celebrate the seventh anniversary of the Right to Information Act, 2005, a section of civil society groups in Chandigarh have set up a library of RTI documents. This initiative is being touted as a first in Asia and the library can function as an open source depository of the information collected under the RTI Act.

The collection was inaugurated at the Dwarka Das Library in Lala Lajpat Rai Bhawan recently.

Anybody and everybody can be a member of this library free of cost and can also add to the information available. The library has been formed by The Citizens' Voice and RTI Users' Association in partnership with the Servants of People's Society.

According to Onkar Chand, chairman of the Servants of People's Society, the process of collecting documents from RTI users is underway. Within a few months time, the entire collection will be uploaded online making the information accessible from anywhere in the world. A large number of RTI documents were deposited with the library on the inaugural day.

A unique library classification system called the “Indian Information Documents Classification System” has been specifically developed for this library. The documents will be catalogued according to the subject matter, ministry/department and whether they relate to the Central or State government, making it easy for anybody to navigate through the collection.

The library will ensure that the documents procured by different RTI users are put to further use. An appeal was made to RTI users across the country to share the documents for greater public interest.

Hemant Goswami, chairman of Citizens' Voice and one of the founding members of the RTI Users' Association said, “the library will be a constant reminder of Section 4(1) (a) of the RTI Act, which mandates that the authorities should maintain their records duly catalogued, indexed and wherever possible computerized and connected through a network all over the country. Nothing has been done about it yet. This library will be a reminder to the public authorities to do their duty under the legislation.”