Dr. Meghna Dhar
April 23, is celebrated as “World Book Day and Copy Right Day” throughout the world. BOOKS – A gateway to knowledge is the most outstanding innovation in the history of mankind from times immemorial since the invention of printing and has emerged as a powerful means of dissemination and retrieval of knowledge in all educational institutes. Due to technological revolution, the modern libraries are witnessing a tremendous change. The medium of information storage has changed from clay tablets to papers and now to electronic and optical media of CD-ROM’s. With the utilization of computers, the libraries of today have equipped themselves with the latest information and communication technology to provide efficient services. This has brought a revolutionary change in the way libraries adopt and function shifting from print to electronic information dissemination and these libraries are addressed as ‘Digital Libraries’. Today, Internet has become an important source of information to information seekers, but “Books” are still considered as a special collection which a student or a scholar if he wishes to consult and read in his/her hands can get it easily from any library or bookshop. And more over all the existing valuable records of the past are in the form of books and manuscripts which need to be carefully preserved. For this purpose good environment, good storage conditions, educated staff and proper handling techniques are the basic preservation measures that are required.
World book day
Digitization Process: The process of digitization involves converting the existing library material into digital format. In simple words ‘computerization of traditional libraries’ which is referred as ‘Digital Library’ is the need of the hour. The physical or analog object is ‘captured’ by some device such as digital camera, scanner, or recorder, which converts the analog features of the object to numerical values enabling them to be read electronically. Thus storing the information is in digital form. For digitizing of manuscripts, scanning is the only possibility. It is nothing more than a picture of printed page in digital form and the digital images can be made available over electronic networks. A digital image is composed of a set of pixels. The text can be retrieved, printed and modified by using appropriate software. Scanning software comes with the scanner and helps to create image files in formats such as TIFF, JPG (Joint Photographic Group), GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) etc. OCR (Optical Character-Recognition) software enables converting an image of text which is usually captured by scanner into computer editable text or to translate pictures of characters into standard encoding scheme representing them in ASCII or Unicode. In this technique first a scanner is used to produce a digital image of the text, and then OCR Software makes use of stored knowledge about the shapes of individual characters to convert the digital image into OCR.OCR software allows the option of maintaining text and graphic in their original layout as well as plain ASCII and word processing format. Scanning is the practical way of storing old manuscripts, texts and journals. The image of the page may be retrieved and displayed on the video screen of the computer. And a number of copies of these images can be made available in the form of CD’s and DVD’s.
Advantages of Digitization: One of the major advantages of digitization is that it allows increased access to unique and special collection material to large number of users. Digitization offers quick and easy access to multiple users simultaneously from anywhere in the world. Duplication does not degrade the master file. The digitized information can be reproduced to create multiple digital copies without any loss of quality. The digitized information requires less storage space. Image enhancement enables the researchers to analyze the details that cannot be seen by the human eye unaided. Image quality can be quite good and can be electronically restored and enhanced legibility of faded and stained documents can be improved. The digitized text and images can keep the original records safe without any loss or deterioration caused by mishandling by human beings.
Disadvantages of Digitization: One of the major disadvantages of digitization is that its financial costs are extremely high and requires additional resources in digitization projects with expertise staff. Various copyright issues need to be resolved before taking any steps to preserve the library materials. It is very difficult to ascertain the authenticity and integrity of an image or text when it is in digital form as the data stored in digital form as it can be very easily tampered and manipulated. Careless handling and improper storage would damage recorded information. For its maintenance, the storage area needs to be properly air-conditioned and humidity should be constantly maintained round the clock, for which trained staff and finance is required.
Librarians Responsibility: Librarians have the moral responsibility of preservation and conservation of books and other library material. Preservation deals with the regular maintenance aspect where as conservation deals with the remedial treatment and restoration of the already damaged material. Librarians are charged with responsibility of care and management of documents so as to make them available for generations to come. The records which are being created and accumulated in our libraries today will turn as records of the past achievements tomorrow. Therefore for preserving old as well as current documents, Librarians have to pay adequate attention for its regular maintenance.
Conclusion: Enormous collections are accumulated over the past several centuries in our libraries, and a very considerable part of these is too precious to neglect. Realizing the importance of manuscripts and rare books every possible care for their well being and preservation should be taken into consideration. Digitization is the process of converting information into a digital format especially the rare book material for our future generations. It can be concluded that the library professionals must work together to create general awareness about the preservation and conservation of manuscripts and rare books among the public which can be strengthened by organizing various workshops, seminars, conferences, rare book and manuscript exhibitions and lectures on relevant topics with wider publicity.
(The author is working as Assistant Professor in University of Jammu, Jammu.)