Introduction: Inspired by the success of Saksham Surajpur and Sashakt Dantewada, the visionary theme of “One District One Digital Library for All Citizens” envisions a transformative digital library system accessible to every individual. These pioneering initiatives in Surajpur and Dantewada districts of Chhattisgarh have empowered students and citizens through the centralized availability of vast educational resources. Embracing this theme, we aim to create a unified platform, fostering a culture of reading, knowledge dissemination, and career advancement, ultimately driving inclusive development across our districts
Saksham Surajpur: Empowering Education through Knowledge
Saksham Surajpur is a visionary initiative launched in Surajpur District, Chhattisgarh, with the primary goal of empowering students and youth to unleash their potential by providing them access to a wide range of books and learning resources. Like many others, the district had several government primary, middle, and high schools, each with its own library. However, the issue of underutilized books was prevalent due to fewer students registered in some schools and the absence of a comprehensive system for book sharing.
To address this challenge and create a more equitable learning environment, Saksham Surajpur was conceptualized and implemented. The core idea was to centralize information about the books available in 154 select government schools in the district and make it accessible through a user-friendly online platform. A unique login ID was provided to every school and student, enabling them to access the database, browse available books, and request titles from other schools.
The success of Saksham Surajpur lies in its well-coordinated distribution mechanism. The Cluster Academic Coordinators (CAC) played a pivotal role in facilitating the process. When a student from one school requested a book from another school, the CAC ensured that the book reached the Block Resource Coordinator (BRC). The BRC then coordinated with the District Education Officer (DEO) to transfer the book to the BRC of the block from where the demand originated. Finally, the book was handed over to the CAC of the concerned cluster, who delivered it to the requesting student’s school.
This efficient system ensured that the requested book reached the student within two days of placing the demand.
Saksham Surajpur has revolutionized the management of resources in our district’s high schools, where around 46,000 books are now available through efficient pooling. This has not only increased per book usage but also streamlined future procurement plans, resulting in better utilization of resources and cost savings. With a uniform set of procedures implemented across all libraries in the district, librarians now find it easier to manage the libraries, promoting a seamless experience for our readers.
The impact of Saksham Surajpur extends beyond the library walls. The project has played a vital role in reducing the unemployment rate by encouraging unemployed youth, particularly from remote blocks, to apply for competitive exams. This empowers them with access to job opportunities they may have previously overlooked. Additionally, instilling a culture of reading has diverted the energy of our youth in a positive direction, resulting in better-informed citizens and collaborative development of our district.
It is heartening to witness the formation of voluntary groups that actively engage in social causes such as Swachh Bharat Mission and Plastic-free initiatives. Citizens’ involvement in such initiatives showcases a direct connection with the administration and a sense of responsibility towards their community.
For the first time in the district, citizens are experiencing the joy of borrowing a book from a library for a period of 15 days, inspiring ambition among our youth and fostering a desire for a brighter future. The results are evident in the increased number of individuals who have qualified for government jobs at various levels, spreading across all blocks rather than being concentrated solely in the district headquarters.
Saksham Surajpur has made library books accessible to citizens in the remotest areas of the district. Through the online platform, interested individuals can effortlessly access learning materials and broaden their knowledge horizons.
Since its launch on 5th September 2019, Saksham Surajpur has gained popularity among students, maximizing book utilization in 154 libraries across the district. Notably, the program has also cultivated a reading culture, with students actively participating in the initiative. By 31st March 2020, over 84,312 books had been made accessible to students, facilitating their academic growth and fostering a love for reading.
Sashakt Dantewada: Empowering Minds in a Challenging Terrain
In Dantewada District, Chhattisgarh, Sashakt Dantewada emerged as a transformative endeavor to address the unique challenges faced by students due to the district’s geographical environment and prevailing circumstances. The district, affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE), posed obstacles to education, hindering many inquisitive minds from accessing books and educational resources.
To bridge this gap and provide equal opportunities for growth and learning, the Sashakt Dantewada E-Library was launched. This online library program encompasses 209 schools in the district, with a registration count of 23,778 students. The initiative offers an extensive collection of over 1,15,078 books spanning various genres and subjects.
The user-friendly interface of Sashakt Dantewada E-Library allows students, teachers, general citizens, and professionals to register and benefit from the vast array of available resources. The collection includes novels, stories, Hindi proverbs, sports, health, science, general knowledge, computer, chemistry, physics, mathematics, competitive exam-related material, grammar, motivation, competitions, biographies, plays, dictionaries, projects, recipes, current affairs, and more.
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sashakt Dantewada E-Library proved to be a lifeline for students and citizens, providing uninterrupted access to educational materials when physical libraries were closed. The program has positively impacted the reading habits of students and citizens, encouraging intellectual development and expanding their knowledge horizons.
The endeavor to promote reading and learning continues as Sashakt Dantewada E-Library aspires to grow into a vast repository of knowledge, with the encouragement and support of the district’s residents. This e-library serves as a symbol of hope, resilience, and progress, guiding the youth towards a brighter future despite the challenging circumstances they face in Dantewada.