All public libraries in the State will be digitised, C.Ve. Shanmugham, Minister for School Education, Sports and Youth Welfare, announced here on Thursday.

Giving away the ‘Best Librarian Awards' to 32 librarians at a function organised in connection with the Library Week, he said that the laptops given free to students by the government would lead to a revolution in education. Students would be able to access all avenues of knowledge, including libraries. “Such a revolution is not far off from libraries as well as you (librarians) should also adapt yourselves to the changing times.”

The Minister, who reeled off a number of initiatives taken by Chief Minister Jayalalthaa to promote libraries since assuming power in 1991, said it was she who enhanced the library cess collected by the local bodies from five per cent to 10 per cent in 1992 in a bid to buy books and construct buildings for libraries.

She extended the library movement to as many as 625 rural locations in 1995-96. In 2003-04, she further expanded the facility to 860 villages.

And it was the first time in the annals of Tamil Nadu, a permanent book exhibition was conceived in 2004, which continued to function till date in Chennai. “This year, even without you requesting her, she has ordered the filling of 1093 vacancies in libraries.” Promotion had been granted to 260 persons as Grade III Librarians.

The Minister said though there were 4041 libraries in the State, only 1,600 had their own buildings. More than 2,000 were functioning from rented buildings. The Chief Minister had allotted Rs.25 core for the construction of buildings for libraries and Rs.10 crore for repairs of existing buildings.

Alleging that under the previous Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government, no books were purchased for the libraries from 2009 though books had been selected, Mr. Shanmugham said that Ms. Jayalalithaa had allotted Rs.25 crore for the procurement of books for rural libraries this year.

R. Ramasamy, president of the Madras Libraries Association, and Southern Regional officer of the Rajaram Mohan Roy Library Charities Trust, urged the government to name the Best Librarian Award after the legendary librarian S.R. Ranganathan.

Keywords: Library Week

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