At a time when the Government of India is pushing for a ‘Digital India’, the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT-KGP) is in the midst of developing the National Digital Library (NDL) which will help students access all digitised educational content on a common platform.
The content required to build the NDL will be derived from the libraries of educational institutions from across the nation.
The main aim of the project is to create a knowledge base for students belonging to all ages, explained Partha Pratim Das, joint project investigator and professor at the computer science and engineering department.
“Every educational institution has its own content which is available exclusively for its own students and staff. Our aim is to digitise such content and bring it under an umbrella, thereby, making it accessible for students all over the country. We have started off by integrating content which is already digitised by universities and are streamlining it to a common platform,” Prof. Das said.
Although the project received approval in March this year, the 40-member team has already successfully curated and uploaded all English and Hindi texts from the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).Multi-lingual content
“We are in the process of identifying content in Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Marathi as these languages (besides Hindi and English) are spoken widely across the nation. We are actively trying to widen the ambit of the reach of the NDL by making vernacular content available. The website’s interface is already available in English, Hindi, Bengali and Tamil,” Prof. Das said. Assistance from students at IIT-KGP is being sought to help out with the vernacular texts.
The NDL will also include an interface for differently-abled persons.
Presentations have already been made to the Minister of Human Resource Development, Smriti Irani.
While the concept is new in the country, such initiatives are already popular in universities in the West. Therefore, the big task ahead for the team is to raise awareness about the NDL, develop the required infrastructure and assist other universities in doing the same. The team is conducting workshops at several institutes across the country to educate them and help them build the infrastructure. While such workshops have already been held at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research-Mohali, IIT-KGP, IIT-Roorkee (concentrating on north India) and IIT-Guwahati (for the northeast), more workshops are planned for IIT-Madras and IIT-Delhi.
“Besides educational institutes, we have collaborated with the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Defence Research and Development Organisation. ISRO is regularly making their educational content available online as other documents are classified and cannot be shared. DRDO has also agreed to make its de-classified documents available soon,” Prof. Das said.
The team is hoping to launch the portal by the end of this year, but it will not be launched until they have sufficient material. Unlike a search engine, the NDL will be a content-rich repository of information which can only be thrown open when there is enough data, Prof. Das explained.