Beep! Here's your book
No more pottering through dusty catalogues. The City Central Library in Malleswaram has shown the e-way out of such hassles
FIRST OF ITS KIND F.S. Duragannavar: `The user doesn't even have to be computer literate to use the kiosk' PHOTO: SAMPATH KUMAR G.P.
The business of borrowing a book or lending one in a library is quite a bit of paperwork, involving much more than what's contained between the covers of the book in question. First going through the catalogue and then exchanging cards, stamping the book, making an entry...
The City Central Library in Malleswaram, Bangalore, is well on its way to doing away with much of this hassle, making the process of reaching for the book you want that much simpler. Thanks to the initiative F.S. Duragannavar, who just retired as the Chief Librarian, of the public library on Sampige Road, now has a kiosk with a touch-screen computer on which you can get all the information you want in a jiffy. You can look for a book in either English or Kannada by the subject, the title, writer or the publisher at the touch of the screen. The search takes you straight to all the details on the book, down to even whether or not it has been borrowed. All this without any assistance from the library staff.
"Because it's a touch screen system, the user need not even be computer literate to use the kiosk," says a proud Duragannavar. He, with the help of a software firm called Saral Solutions Private Limited, has designed this kiosk by adapting the E-Granthalaya software developed by the National Informatics Centre to their specific needs. The kiosk also provides additional information such as the names of ministers in Karnataka, tourism destinations in the State and train and air timings.
The first computerised City Central Library in Karnataka, the Malleswaram library, has several other e-features, starting with the very process of becoming a member here. Wholly computerised, you can get enrolled in five minutes flat. And you sign on your laminated card using an e-pen! All the books are bar-coded and no longer need to be manually stamped. The library, which has 1,500 to 2,000 people visiting it every day, also has an Internet browsing centre and a section of educational cassettes and CDs.
With the Malleswaram branch as the model, many other City Central Libraries in the State are now being computerised. Duragannavar has himself brought out a manual to help in this process. Though now retired, he is willing to pitch in if any library wants his assistance in making this shift.
With all these initiatives the image of a government-run library may change from a musty place where everything is in disarray to one with glowing screens and laminated library cards. But it still retains its one primary function that of providing access to knowledge to the common man at affordable costs. So what better place than a City Central Library to introduce technology to those to whom it is still a faraway dream?
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