Odia Wikisource Turns 3

 

Odia Wikisource, the Odia language version of Wikisource,  an online digital library of free content textual sources run by the Wikimedia Foundation, celebrates three years of contributing to the free knowledge movement this October. Odia Wikisource is a sister project of Odia Wikipedia,  the oldest Indian language Wikipedia. The Odia Wikimedia community, a group of active contributors to Odia Wikimedia projects in India, has been working towards digitizing rare books that are no longer under copyright as well as encouraging authors and publishers to free-license their work under the Creative Commons ShareAlike License 4.0. This license allows anyone free use of the work with due attribution. The books are usually digitized into Unicode text by scanning them using Optical Character Recognition technique. This ensures their easy accessibility on the Internet so that people may easily copy, share and use these works for citations and references. If the books are damaged to a degree that they cannot be scanned, volunteers take the painstaking effort to manually type out whole books and manuscripts.


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Odia Wikisource contributors/ CCBYSA4.0 User:Psubhashish

 

The Odia Wikisource project was realized on 20 October, 2014 after a two-year incubation period. Says Pankajmala Sarangi, long time Odia Wikimedian active on Wikisource, "since [2014] more than 300 old and rare books have been digitised and made available online. Before that, searching [for] a book in Odia was not possible even if it existed in pdf or some other format. Now it has become easy and all the books available on Wikisouce are easily searchable." In addition to digitization, the Odia Wikimedia community members conduct regular quality checks of the content from time to time by ensuring proper licensing, attributions and other errors that may be avoided by thorough proof-reading. While these quality checks follow global guidelines that have been localised to help volunteers prevent vandalism of any form, it has not been without its challenges. Ms. Pankajmala explains that the lack of Odia text on operating systems is problematic for access and availability. 

Despite the challenges, Odia Wikisource counts amongst its accomplishments the digitization of a twelve volume 14th century Odia classic as well as 16th century palm leaf manuscripts from the Dadhibaman Temple in Bargarh, Odisha. Taking the movement to classrooms, Odia Wikisource was introduced to students of the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences to pique the interest of young minds in the preservation of Odia language texts online. The many advantages of Odia Wikisource has also been illustrated to institutions with the Utkal University library encouraging the digitization of their rare books and manuscripts by Odia Wikimedians.

Sangram Keshari Senapati, another active Odia Wikimedian explains that Odia Wikisource is important for the preservation of those books which run a high risk of being lost in the coming years. He says, "our future generation must get a chance to read them." Adding to this, Ms. Pankajmala says, "Sky is the limit for Odia wikisource. We will try to digitise more books, most probably triple the number of existing books. We'll even try to reach more libraries and authors and get more books and further digitize them. The number of wikimedians may also flourish till that time."

 



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