Valuable Odia publications, hitherto unavailable on web, will soon be available at the click of the mouse. In a bid to preserve precious books that are out of print and not easily accessible on the internet, Odia Wikipedia has started work on digitising them.
In the first phase, 11 books focusing on children literature, travelogue and biographies of noted people from Odisha by eminent Odia author Jagannath Mohanty will be digitised.
The project is being 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 all the digitised books of Mohanty will subsequently be made available on the internet with open access through free licences.
A six-member group consisting of faculty at Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) will be training students of the institution to digitise the children’s literature books by Mohanty.
This will both enhance their computer learning and proficiency in Odia language and digital domain. After the initial work starts within a month’s time, around 100 students would contribute towards digitising about 5000 pages of all the 11 books.
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 is working on rectifying bugs and making character recognition more accurate. Because of the problems with OCR, the books will be re-typed by the students of KISS on Odia Wikisource, an online library and a sister project of Wikipedia,” said Subashish.
Besides these 11 books, two books of Subrat Prusty - Bhasa O Jatiyata and Jati, Jagruti O Pragati - will be digitised on Wikisource.
“As these two books have been typed with Akruti fonts - a proprietary Indian Script Code for Information Interchange (ISCII) compliant font - this font will be converted to Unicode standards to make the books searchable and accessible universally in all mobile and web platforms on Wikisource,” he added.
An English book ‘Classical Odia’ authored by eminent linguist Debiprasanna Pattanayak and Subrat Prusty will also go on English Wikisource.
A similar project was earlier undertaken on a large scale by Bhubaneswar-based Srujanika, a voluntary organisation, when old Odia magazines and books were digitised. Odia wikipedia has been trying to popularise use of the language on the Internet since 2002.