Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 23:
An open forum on “Public Libraries in Odisha: Vision 2020” was organised by Odisha Society of the Americas (OSA) in association with BAKUL Foundation and Prafulla Pathagara at the Bakul Library here yesterday.
Sujit Mahapatra of BAKUL and Nishikanta Sahoo of OSA spelt out the vision of Odisha that was reaping the benefits of a knowledge economy. This can happen if the state is transformed into a knowledge-based society with equitable access to knowledge for which vibrant public libraries were needed across Odisha with community participation that made them relevant and dynamic. That would also help break the digital divide by being ICT enabled. But as the title suggests, it was not a long term vision but a vision with immediate actionable points.
This open forum was a result of the efforts of the organizers to promote, facilitate, advocate, support the best practices and proven models for a well-integrated public library system in Odisha by connecting library activists, professionals, enthusiasts, industry experts, academics, and policy makers. OSA has also been closely working with the state government to build Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enabled model public libraries in Odisha.
This seminar is an opportunity for an open discussion in addressing the key challenges and sharing of the ideas for a very positive outcome.
School and Mass Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra, the Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Department of Culture, Manoranjan Panigrahi, Akash Dasnayak, MLA and actor, and eminent intellectuals of the state such as Professor Jatin Nayak, Professor Swadhin Pattanayak and Dash Ben Hur participated in the discussions in this open forum.
The open house advocated for the urgent implementation of the Odisha Public Library Act of 2001.
Speaking on the occasion, the Secretary, Department of Culture, Panigrahi said that the government was committed to implementing the Library Act and promised it would happen within this fiscal year. The reason it had been delayed the last few years was because some thought the concept of e-library should be integrated in the act, but now they are going ahead with the existing Act as a new revised Act would take a lot of time.
“I believed in the power of libraries, and that is why good libraries were a key element of the model schools they were developing. Moreover, they were also thinking of incentivizing teachers, who promoted reading habits among children,” Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said.
The open forum will also see the sharing of best practices in the library movement from Odisha from an urban public library- Bakul Library in Bhubaneswar and Gandhi Pathagara, Bargarh, rural libraries of Prafulla Pathagara in Jagatsinghpur and Vivek Library in Rajsunakhela, and school libraries in Ganjam.