Karnataka’s digital libraries saw a huge gain in membership during the pandemic.
Readers turned to digital libraries during the pandemic when they had no access to physical libraries that were shut.
Dr. Satishkumar S. Hosamani, Director, Department of Public Libraries said that they saw exponential growth in membership of digital libraries during the pandemic increasing the overall readership.
As of Nov.15, 2021, 1,90,24,938 members are registered on Karnataka Digital Public Library portal and they have viewed 2,003,834 e-contents, according to Department of Public Library. However, digital libraries have not affected readership in physical libraries very much, said Sunita, Assistant librarian north zone of Bangalore. “The number of people visiting public libraries has gone down after reopening compared to pre-pandemic levels. The decrease in number of people visiting is to be blamed on Covid norms instead of digital libraries,” added Sunita.
Rohit, a student who has membership in both digital and physical public libraries said that he took his digital membership during the pandemic as he was not able to visit physical libraries., He prefers going to a physical library to read books. Moreover, they charge an amount of Rs.100 to Rs. 400 based on the number of books a user wants to access per week online while the offline lifetime membership is Rs. 200, he added.
There are around 5000 files with Kannada content catering to various streams like schools, colleges apart from arts and humanities, personality skills and literature. Specifically for school children, State and CBSE syllabus e-books are provided, catering to class 1 to 12. There are around 4200 e-books in Kannada and around 600 videos in Kannada language, according to the Department of Public Libraries.
To benefit school and postgraduate students, 10129 e-books and 61491 national and international journals, newspaper and periodicals have been uploaded on Karnataka Digital Public Library portal. Also 109332 e-books pertaining to different subjects and 8156 educational videos have been uploaded on Karnataka Digital Public Library portal to cater to the information needs of the public.
The content can be accessed through the platform named “e-Sarvajanika Granthalaya” which is available for both web access and as an application (App) for the users.
Dr. Rajesh, professor of sociology, Bangalore University said that the increase in overall readership is because people started building habits during pandemic and most of them turned towards books as a way of passing their time. People who have privacy and ambient reading environment would prefer to read books in their homes but people who do not would like to go to physical libraries to read, he said.,
It also depends on the age of the reader, old people like to read physical books and the young readers do not mind reading digitally, he added.
The Department of Public Library comprises of 26 City Central, 30 District Central, 216 Taluk and 100 branch libraries working under five zones of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike(BBMP) which comes to 372 digital libraries across the State of Karnataka.