–Digital libraries provide access to e-books, e-theses, documentaries, videos, audios, e-newspapers and much more
LAHORE: As many as 8,778 readers have subscribed to the e-libraries established by Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), Pakistan Today has learnt.
According to the stats provided by PITB, the e-libraries were established in 20 districts of Punjab, including Okara, Toba Tek Singh, Rawalpindi, DG Khan, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Attock, Narowal, Sahiwal, Muzaffargarh, Sargodha, Bhakkar, Gujranwala, Bahawalpur, Vehari, Mianwali whereas the e-library in Lahore is under construction but will be completed soon.
The membership of e-libraries in the districts is calculated as 1,670 in Okara, 873 in Toba Tek Singh, 676 in Rawalpindi, 688 in DG Khan, 600 in Faisalabad, 551 in Gujrat, 475 in Multan, 442 in Rahim Yar Khan, 413 in Attock, 389 in Narowal, 388 in Sahiwal, 358 in Muzzafargarh, 299 Sargodha, 245 in Bhakkar, 230 in Gujranwala, 158 in Bahawalpur, 143 in Vehari and 89 in Mianwali.
Each e-library is established with an estimated cost of Rs18 million and contains 3,000 printed books, thirty (30) laptops for public use, fifteen (15) tablets, free wireless (WiFi) access, auditorium with 40 seats (Room 04) for movie screenings (provided public performance rights are obtained), lectures, or seminars. PITB officials have said that each e-library currently has three study rooms that are available during normal e-library hours for individual or small group of users for study projects or meetings.
A student of a local university, Omer Naeem, said that it was a great initiative by PITB as it would help in the research and studies of the students and faculty members as well. “Through such facilities we can read material which is not physically present with us in the university’s library. We did not have any kind of e-library facility in Pakistan previously and I am sure that a lot of students would go for its membership. No public library had previously provided this facility,” Omer added.
A professor, Dr Adnan Nabeel said, “Books are undoubtedly a person’s best friend and we should enjoy holding a book in hands and reading it, but other than that I appreciate these efforts which are being made in establishing the e-libraries for the people as the culture of reading was vanishing.”
“Our younger generation needs to be brought back to this culture of reading rather than using mobiles and laptops for games and other purposes. Many times we face these issues that relevant material and data for a certain research is not available in books and that is where we can use these e-libraries. This will help us reach to books that are in some other city of Punjab while sitting at our station,” Fakhar said.
PITB Chairman Dr Umar Saif told Pakistan Today that the initiative was taken up by PITB to revive the love for reading. “All over the world we see the concept of e-libraries but it was lacking here in Pakistan. PITB took up the initiative of establishing these e-libraries and now we see a good number of memberships in a few months’ time. I think our students and other people were looking forward to something like this.”
“A centralised digital library has been established and hosted at PITB data center. It provides access to general e-books, e-theses, documentaries, videos, audios, local and international e-newspapers, e-magazines and journals, text and reference books and datasets through user friendly searching. The collections have international standard metadata and have been classified into specific categories,” he said, adding that thousands of indigenous documents were accessible remotely through the service.