National Digital Library: Building a National Asset
The concept of Library is undergoing a paradigm shift as more and more contents are made available in electronic form and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools and services facilitate easy discovery and location independent access of library resources. There have been many digital library initiatives sponsored by several ministries, notably Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) under its National Mission of Education through In- formation and Communication Technology (NMEICT) Mission.
Problems under Online Education
In spite of several such initiatives in the country, most of the challenges faced by students, teachers, and general users in using digital contents remain unaddressed to a large extent. Users still have to visit individual websites to access e-resources, need to learn retrieval/search techniques separately, face the lack of vernacular access and limited contents. Further, there is hardly any integration of learner-learner, teacher-teacher and teacher-learner communication within the learning environment.
National Digital Library
To overcome the problems underlying online education (discussed above) MHRD initiated the National Digital Library (NDL) pilot project under NMEICT in April 2015 to bridge the gaps that exist in the wide range from literacy to advanced knowledge discovery and development of knowledge. It will enable integrated knowledge gathering on diverse topics in various sectors including economic, technical, strategic, and social sectors and will help personalized, self-paced, new-age multimedia duplication, NDL will not be a new Library, but will be a neatly crafted umbrella over the existing ones.
Purpose of NDL
NDL is envisage as platform that will bring fundamental shift in the paradigm of education and research. It will help students to prepare for entrance and competitive examinations. It will enable people to learn and prepare from best practices from all over the world and adopt them. It will help researchers to perform inter-linked exploration from multiple sources and carry out new analytics of text, audio, image, and video data to create new knowledge. Finally, it will support the continual evolution of new pedagogy of learning and new opportunities to lever- age ICT in education.
Inclusiveness and Openness
The philosophy of NDL is inclusive and open -inclusive of all levels of users of all kinds, an areas, all languages, all domains, all sources, and all types of contents. It is envisaged to be open in terms of usage. The infrastructure and metadata of NDL will be open for all kinds of research, development, and extension except for copyright restrictions on full-text wherever applicable.
Awareness and Dissemination
Workshops and conferences are being conducted in various regions of the country to build awareness and provide hands-on “training, Delegations from NDL are actively presenting the NDL in various national and international conferences to ensure dissemination, A website (www.ndl1project.iitkg.ac.in/ndl/) has been set up where information on NDL is freely available.
The full scale NDL will be able to bring a paradigm shift ushering in a new education movement in the country covering all stages from kindergarten to cutting edge research to life- long learners. Not only will this provide wide range of contents as described in this paper, NDL will open several opportunities for new-age techniques in learning, solve many of the long- standing bottlene9ks in education and research, facilitate systematic crowd-sourcing in education, and become a true national asset.
There are, however, a few challenges which need to be addressed in due course to make NDL self-sustainable. Some of these are Effective Crowd-Sourcing Mechanism for contents, National Licensing, Clean Copyright Policies, Creation of High Value Proposition, Self-Sup- porting Revenue Model and Inculcation of Open Culture at large. It is expected that with the development of awareness and effective support of various Ministries and citizens of the country, it will be possible to address these sooner or later thus, making NDL the national learning platform in India.