Information technology “infects” libraries in Kosovo, too

Information Technonlogy 'infects'With the development of information technology, the interest in traditional libraries is decreasing, whereas the digitalization of libraries, turning books into e-books, promises change.

Although the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and the National Library have signed a memorandum of cooperation to digitalize libraries, such a process has not been implemented yet, also due to the absence of legal ground for digital publications.

Head of the Division for Public Communication in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport (MCYS), Osman D. Gashi says that, MCYS has allocated 160,000 euros for book publishing, in 2016

The Ministry of Culture is working on the legal infrastructure of digital publication in this phase, whereas digitalization is under the authority of the National Library rather than the MCYS. Thus, there hasn’t been any particular investment from MCYS,” he says.

Munish Hyseni, director of the “Hivzi Sulejmani” Library in Prishtina, speaks of a very considerable increase of membership of readers during this year, especially after they moved into a new, more appropriate building.

In the last three days alone, the 300 available in the library were not sufficient for the 400 visitors. Young readers prevail,” says Hyseni.

Hyseni adds that he hasn’t noticed changes in readership with the development of information technology, internet and social networks. Their readers are usually pupils or students but neither this institution nor Kosovo can escape from being affected.

According to him, the development of the information technology, had a positive impact in the functioning of this library, too. The program “Aleph 500” has helped to electronically catalogue books so that readers can find out whether the book they are searching for is in the library. According to the director, this does represent a big step in the digitalizing process compared to other countries around the world, Kosovo is still way behind. However, after the conversation with the directors of the National Library, he hopes that the process of the digitalization of newspapers, such as daily “Rilindja”, can begin in the near future.

As for the fear that has spread recently that traditional libraries will cease to exist, due to the digitalization and other technological developments, director of the Library, Hyseni, says that he shares views with two remarkable people, as he puts it: Milan Kundera and Umberto Eco.

Kundera has left a sort of a will that prohibits anyone from digitalizing his books, whereas Umberto Eco has said that books need to be touched and smelled” cited Hyseni.

He becomes emotional when speaking about his fear that values can be lost. Hyseni believes that although humanity has come a long way, books and and their traditional preservation will continue.

On each National Book Day, the library announces the best readers, as an incentive for reading.  The Reader of the Year Altina Kasabaqi is not too fond of the idea of the book digitalization, because, as she puts it, books are losing their relevance. Even books that are visualized through movies, fail to portray the story as well as the book.

Fazli Gajraku, director of the National Library “Pjetër Bogdani”, in a meeting with the members of the Committee for Education, Culture, Youth, Sports, Public Administration, Local Government and Media of the Republic of Kosovo Assembly, said that the library is planning to create a joint book catalogue for all libraries in Kosovo. By creating such a catalogue and applying international standards of bibliographic description for all kinds of publications, Kosovo aims to join international organizations like: WorldCat, World Digital Library, etc.

The library digitalization project continues to be a priority on the agenda, furthermore since the signing of the MoU between the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and the National Library, with the objective of digitalizing all print documents of the library, that are part of Kosovo’s culture and knowledge,” claims Gajraku.

Puhiza Bekolli

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