Digitizing Knowledge: National Digital Library

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Chief Editors: Shreerang Javadekar, Shreeyesh Menon
Mail to: insight@iitb.ac.in

In addition to the numerous steps being taken to introduce reforms in Higher Education such as GIAN (Global Initiative of Academic Networks) and NPTEL (National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning), the MHRD has now introduced another ambitious program called National Digital Library (NDL) to supplement the growing need of educational resources and to increase their availability to the masses.

What’s it all about?
The Ministry of Human Resource Development under its National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology has initiated the NDL pilot project to develop the framework of a virtual repository of learning resources with a single-window search facility. It is integrating the digitized content of national repositories and other national institutes to make everything accessible at one centralized location. Though currently in the pilot stage, it aims of providing content for learners across all academic levels including people preparing for entrance exams, researchers, and even life-long learners for free of cost.

What all does it have to offer?
The ultimate aim of this project is to make content available in all major vernacular languages so that a wider audience can benefit from these resources. It will also include an interface to support learning for differently-abled users. The sources for materials will include government organizations like ISRO and DRDO, educational institutions and various other public forums. A wide variety of resources across audio, video and text formats are being gathered for this project.

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Is there any content that might be useful to me?
As of writing, more than 1.5 million items in over 70 languages have been hosted on the site.
Resources from the following sources have started pouring in:
NCERT – Textbooks from primary to class XII in Hindi and English are available.
NPTEL – 10,000+ video lectures spanning various engineering courses are available.
DLI – A collection of 5 million titles collected from various libraries in India.
LibriVox – A collection of 200,000 audio books
SNLTR – Digitization of literary works by Rabindranath Tagore available in Bengali.
KrishiKosh – Repository of Indian National Agricultural Research with 50,000 titles.
Inflibnet – Information Library network of colleges under the University Grants Commission.
Spoken Tutorials – It aims to teach programming languages, office tools, graphic and circuit design tools through 700+ audio video tutorials.
ICRISAT – 10,000+ resources from Crop Research Institute for Semi-Acrid Tropics.
IACS Kolkata – 500+ Papers on basic sciences, physics, chemistry.
CMFRI – 10,000+ resources from Marine Fisheries Research Institute.
Over 60 institutions and organizations have tied up with NDL and started the process of making their content available on their website. The message is being spread via librarians of various institutes and they will be responsible for certain aspects of this project.

Editors’ Take
NDL is a very ambitious project given that its scope is to cover a huge variety of content and a diverse population. While it has started on a positive note with old IITs, IIMs and other premier research institutions providing support, it remains to be seen whether this will culminate into something that will be useful to the masses since most content at the moment seems scattered. Execution and scalable growth seem like difficult steps for this project especially the steps that involve metadata collection. Cooperation from remaining educational institutes and research organizations is another factor that will determine whether this project is able to achieve its intended goal.

References:

1. NDL IITKGP