Access to Rare Books Made Easy

by Prasad Krishna last modified Dec 27, 2014 01:56 AM
Rare Odia books that are out of print and not easily accessible on the internet, will now be available at the click of the mouse. In a bid to make them available online, the Odia Wikipedia community last week launched WikiSource, an Odia e-library and a sister project of Odia Wikipedia that has been trying to popularise use of Odia language on the Internet since 2002.

The article by Diana Sahu was published in the New Indian Express on December 5, 2014

The online library has 69 books by authors Jagannath Mohanty, Upendra Bhanja, Fakir Mohan Senapati, Gopabandhu Das, Baladeva Rath and Ram Das. Besides, the complete volume of Bhagwad Gita in Odia language is available on WikiSource.

The project has been implemented by Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society’s Access to knowledge programme. Odia Wikipedian Subhashish Panigrahi, also a programme officer of the Centre for Internet and Society, said work on digitisation of the books was started in April this year by a team of 12 Wikipedians, comprising mostly students and working professionals.

Apart from them, 50 tribal students and nine faculty members of Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) helped them with the digitisation job. As most of the books were typed in Akruti font - a proprietary Indian Script Code for Information Interchange (ISCII) compliant font - the font was converted to Unicode text type to make the books searchable and accessible universally in all mobile and web platforms.

In the first phase, 11 books focusing on children’s literature, travelogue and biographies of noted people from Odisha by eminent Odia author Jagannath Mohanty were digitised. Subsequently, works of other authors were added to the e-library and made available on the internet with open access through free licence.

Subhashish said the WikiSource project was started in 2013 as an incubator project. It went through a tough process of being accessed by the Wikimedia Language Committee and Wikimedia Foundation’s board before being released last week. “There are several precious books that are out of print and not easily accessible on the internet. So we thought of digitising them and taking them to the masses. Apart from the 69 books, 81 of seven Odia authors that were already scanned and digitised by Bhubaneswar-based voluntary organisation, Srujanika, have been re-licensed and added to the library,” he said. Srujanika has digitised 740 old Odia magazines and books so far.

Generally a technique called Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is used for digitising scanned books, which currently is in testing phase in Odia. “Faculty member of ITER in Bhubaneswar Ajit Nayak along with his students have rectified the bugs and made character recognition more accurate.

But because of problems with OCR, the books had to be re-typed by the students of KISS on Odia Wikisource, Subashish added.  Old books apart, books by contemporary authors like Debiprasanna Pattanayak, Ramakrushna Nanda, Subrat Prusty, Bharat Majhi and Nirmala Kumari Mohapata, and many other authors have been taken up for digitisation by Odia WikiSource team. Odia WikiSource is now live at