Odisha Society of the Americas hosted Webinar on Empowering Odisha with State-of-the-art Public Library System

Houston : The Odisha Society of the Americas(OSA) hosted the webinar on Odisha Public Library Vision 2024: Empowering Odisha with State-of-the-art Public Library System during its 52nd annual convention held in Houston, Texas.

During the Welcome address, President OSA Kuku Das appealed to CM Sri Naveen Patnaik for a fast-track implementation of “Odisha Public Library Act-2001” towards a “Well-integrated Modern Public Library System” across all Odisha. Under this program, establishment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enabled public libraries at all District and Grama Panchayat (GP) levels by 2024, must be a top priority similar to previously brilliantly executed Gram Sadak Yojana at the Panchayat level. She suggested having a Mo-Library program like the Mo-School/Mo-College scheme that will encompass all District HQ and GP libraries under a single umbrella

The president elect Sri Gyan Pattnaik said OSA has been committed for the success of the modern public library system in Odisha. The modern public libraries will empower people and make them independent.

Nishikanta Sahoo, Chair OSA Public Library Initiative(OPLI), shared OPLI vision and the key discussion points to accomplish “Odisha Public Library Vision 2024”. He shared how the modern public library system can build a new ecosystem to generate employment, business, minimize migrant crisis, empower people for developed Odisha. Dr Ajay Mohanty, co-chair, OPLI moderated the webinar along with Sri Prasant Bhunya, OPLI board member.

While addressing on the topic on “Fast Track Implementation of Odisha Public Library Rules across all Districts and GPs”, Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Minister Culture, said the Directorate of Public Libraries would be operational in 2 months. He would pursue a convergence scheme of all public libraries in the state under one umbrella. He said “E-library concept will have meaningful results for Odisha”. He shared that the state library had been digitized already and there is a plan to have e-libraries in all districts in two years.

Tusharkanti Behera, Minister Electronics & Information Technology(IT), while speaking on the topic “Broadband connectivity and access to ICT Enabled Public Library by Every Household”, shared the CM Shri Naveen Pattnaik’s dream to have Internet for all. He said, 22541 Km out of 27610 Km Optical Fiber Network has been built. Broadband connectivity to the remaining 84 blocks, 2500 GPs will be completed by Aug 2021 as part of BharatNet Phase-II program. 268 GPs in Puri district received 5 lakhs under MGNREGA scheme to build rural libraries. The minister himself contributed 20 lakhs for the library in Kakatpur, Puri. He said five institutions including public libraries can get free broadband connection in every GP. He will also explore convergence schemes at Block/District level to support librarians and computer operators to manage the public libraries. University digital contents can be accessible to public libraries free of cost with support from NIC. Coaching Center journals can be available to students as well. All 14 universities have broadband connectivity as per the center’s National Knowledge Network scheme.

Manoj Mishra, Secretary, Electronics & Information Technology (IT) shared the current developments in Odisha in the IT sector while addressing on the topic “Building State-of-the-art Digital Infrastructure in Supporting Public Education/Libraries”. He appreciated OSA’s effort and said OSA Public Library Initiative is a positive pressure group for the Govt and think tank in America for Odisha development. Odisha Public Library Vision 2024 is a feasible solution, and it is happening. The second largest data center with 40 racks will be operational in 6-8 months. 150 crores have already been funded for the data center. PR department thru 15th finance commission allocated to build 4 supporting data centers (20-25 racks) across the state to reduce the lag in the communication. The Govt. plans to have the Internet in all 50, 000 villages in 3-5 years. Secretariat staff are working remotely during COVID-19 with 4000 VPNs. He said 18% of GPs do not have any mobile network. GoO is actively working with central Govt. to provide 2000 towers for building 4G/5G mobile networks. GoO is providing significant subsidies to tower manufacturers and network providers to build the mobile network. In the near future, 5G technology will address the broadband connectivity challenges in remote areas. GoO is working with the University of Chicago on UNICODEs for searchable digital content instead of pdf format digital content. Odisha Virtual Academy (OVA ) web portal has digitized 2300 out of 4500 books, 1300 manuscripts, and provides support for 6 languages. OVA will continue to enhance the platform to provide digital contents like audio books, video, e-books, and textbooks for high-school students. GoO will take necessary steps to provide a high quality digital platform in response to questions about having a world-class digital platform like other leading libraries like Boston Public Library, USA.

Sukanta Tripathy, Dy Collector, Sambalpur, spoke about “Sambalpur Panchayat Libraries: Operation, Management & Social/Economic Impact”. He said all 139 Grama Panchayat (GP) Libraries have been established. The administration has started another initiative to have 25 e-libraries in High Schools. He advocated for awareness programs and student orientation programs to increase the demand in libraries. He also proposed to have mandatory library classes in high schools.

 

Dr Basant Parida suggested the culture department should use the media to bring more awareness to the benefits of modern public libraries. Sri Sandip Dasverma suggested making provisions to involve the civil society and direct beneficiaries like the users for long term success of the libraries. Sri Dhirendra Kar suggested having searchable digital content in the libraries, Sri Sanjay Mohanty from TX suggested allocating annual funds from the state budget to support and operate the public libraries. The webinar was attended by Anil Patnaik, Utkal Nayak, Vivek Das, Mrs Nalini Pattnaik, Lalatendu Mohanty, Dhirendra Kar, Dr Sudhir Rout, Sri Sujit Mohapatra, Dr Banambar Sahoo, Dr Devendra Rout, Prof. Arun Patra, Prof. Dr Prasant Mohaptra, Prof. Dr Durga Mishra, Sri Pranab Pani, Sri Debadatta Behera, Dr Sadabihari Sahu, Capt. Kamalakanta Choudhury, Prachi Behera, Pradeep Hota and enthusiasts, supporters across the globe.