Several new age schools have digitized books that do not fall within the ambit of copyright laws and are allowing children to access to these through links since use of libraries has been restricted due to Covid. These schools have also digitized previous years’ question papers and given links to students to help them prepare for exams without visiting the library. In some of the old schools where such digitization has not yet happened, teachers are sending links of reference material from open access sites to help the board-exam candidates.
Most schools have held special meetings to take a call on library use after the state government announced school re-opening. While most have said no to lending and borrowing of books, some are allowing limited access to the reading rooms where a roster is being followed section-wise.
Hindu School, for example, has allowed only students of classes X and XII to visit the reading room in small numbers but no lending is being allowed. “Fumigation chambers are expensive options, so we are isolating books,” explained librarian Jishnu Bhattacharya. Some fiction and non-fiction books that have no copyright infringement have been digitised and teachers are supporting kids by giving links to books they need for their exams.
Many other schools like La Martiniere for Boys and Girls and Loreto Convent Entally have suspended their library services for the time being. “The pandemic has taught us all the importance of the virtual space and soon we will be making provisions for digitizing books that are legally not bound by copyright laws,” said Rupkatha Sarkar, principal of the girls’ school. At St Paul’s Mission School, the reading room facilities have been suspended but the school might allow students to borrow.
Both Heritage and DPS Ruby Park have taken to the digital mode. At Heritage, primary section students are being allowed to join virtual library classes where pages from story books are being digitized and screen is being shared for them to read. For the senior students, classics have been digitized in large numbers and links have been shared. “We have even shared movie links and all text books have been converted into PDF formats so that students could access them during the lockdown phase,” said librarian Anindita Dutta. DPS Ruby Park has shared free e-books with students.