Kerala University to decide on giving project to BAeHAL

After remaining in limbo for many months, the Kerala University Library’s plan to digitise its vast collection of newspapers and rare books has now received a fresh lease of life.

The University of Kerala is but a step away from handing over the project to BAeHAL, the company contracted to digitise documents — including those in the examination wing — in the university itself.

A formal decision on this was expected to be taken soon, Syndicate member B.S. Jyothikumar told The Hindu on Friday.

In 2011-12, the library had drawn up a scheme to scan and store digitally tens of thousands of newspapers it had been storing since 1960 and the rare books it stores in the ‘closed reference’ section. Books in this section are deemed to be too valuable to be circulated. Some books are too damaged to be opened.

The library also proposed to digitise 11,53,500 pages of 3,845 doctoral theses on its shelves. Of these, 3,289 are those relating to English language and literature.

This scheme was aimed at the Shodh Ganga project of the IFLIBNET wherein the UGC body would partly fund the digitisation of the theses. According to library officials, the INFLIBNET would provide a maximum of Rs.12 lakh at the rate of Rs.4 per page scanned.

Accordingly, the library pegged the fund required for the project at Rs.1.15 crore.

“However, when BAeHAL came into the picture, the university realised that the scanning can be done at a fraction of the cost the library had indicated in its plan document. It was the delay in finalising the digitisation drive at the university that delayed the library’s scheme,” Mr. Jyothikumar said.

Going by the rates fixed for the university digitisation drive, A4-size papers can be scanned for less than Re.1.

It is not immediately clear whether the digitisation at the library would be held simultaneously with the programme at the university. The latter is expected to take a year and a half to complete. Library officials said they did not know whether the company contracted by the university would use the kind of high-end devices needed to scan the theses.