ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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National Libraries: A Mission Possible

The National Mission on Libraries awaits government action.

Zeroing in on library and information sciences (LIS) as one and prepare an action plan. It set up the Working Group on important concern in widening and deepening access to Libraries (WGL) which worked on the premise that improving knowledge, the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) and updating the LIS would truly help in overcoming “informahad in 2006 decided to review the current status in the area tion poverty”. It also felt that the focus should change from merely collecting books to ensuring access to all seekers of knowledge no matter which strata they hail from, with librarians and staff being more sensitive to their needs. In its report, the WGL had recommended setting up a National Mission on Libraries (NML), conducting a census of all libraries, revamping LIS training, establishing a central library fund, modernising library management, encouraging greater community participation and promoting information communication technology application in all libraries. The then union culture minister announced that the NML would be set up by the end of 2007, but the proposal has remained on the back-burner all these years. Now, as a first step, in implementing the WGL’s recommendations the government has announced a national census of libraries and a survey of reading habits.

The WGL had also made 10 detailed recommendations for preparation of quality translations (including the translation of pedagogic materials from primary education onwards, especially in the natural and social sciences) and the creation of a National Translation Mission. A seminar “Libraries on the Agenda” jointly organised in 2008 by a number of institutions, including the NKC, set out an advocacy strategy for Indian libraries. This covered preparation of an action plan that would take into account staff performance, include civil society and local self-government authorities in the establishment of libraries, make public libraries a public space for all strata of society and integrate library services into people’s daily lives.

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