LAHORE: In order to revive the lost culture of reading and learning among masses, especially in the new generation, the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) has established 20 e-libraries in various districts of Punjab, Daily Times learnt on Thursday.Initially these libraries have been established in Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Attock, Bahawalpur, Bhakkar, Dera Ghazi Khan, Gujrat, Mianwali, Muzzafaragarh, Narowal, Toba Tek Singh, Vehari, Sargodha, Sheikhupura, Sahiwal, Okara, Rawalpindi and Rahim Yar Khan whereas all the data is being managed at the central hub located at the data centre of PITB website to provide online access to full text eBooks, eJournals, eThesis, online reference collections, Nobel laureate collections, documentaries, simulated videos and other local and international resources. Daily Times was informed that the Sports Board of Punjab had completed the physical infrastructure of the libraries with an amount of Rs 19 million per library. These libraries have been established having the facility of 3,000 print books, 30 laptops, 15 tablets, auditorium for 40 persons, auditorium equipped with multimedia, e-rozgar room, 50 seats classroom, subscription of a Pakistan Law site, subscription of 40,000 e-books, print magazines and access to other libraries of Punjab through a union catalogue.Poet and writer Dr Fakhar Abbas appreciated the concept while talking exclusively to Daily Times was of the opinion that one should move on with the changing trends and innovations in the world and adopt new techniques. “The project of e-libraries is a great initiative in my opinion as people sitting in Lahore would be able to access any library in any other city of Punjab for their reading or research purposes and I think this was lacking here in Pakistan. This initiative will ease and improve the quality of research and reading among the students and researchers,” he said.A private school teacher Maria Khan said that students were seen more involved in playing games on mobiles, their tabs or laptops and a provision of e-library would divert the minds of the students towards positive learning. “If we really want to bring a positive change in our society through the youth and our children, then we must revive the dying culture of reading otherwise we will not be able to provide quality literature. The project of e-libraries is really inspiring but there is also a need of proper electronic and print media campaign to create awareness among the people about the importance and impact of these digital libraries,” she said.While talking to Daily Times, the PITB Programme Manager Aqsa Ghazi said, “We are initially working on the data of a list of 52 public and private universities given by Higher Education Commission. We have written letters to them for sharing their digital data with PITB team and 20 have already shared their data whereas we have sent reminders to the remaining 32 and they will be sharing data soon. In order to share the scope of our digital library and benefits of union catalogue, we are also inviting them to PITB. As we receive the remaining data from the universities we would upload it too.”She further said that they were giving remote access to general public to read top international e-collections and giving on spot access through hotspots in e-libraries in Punjab and economising the access to knowledge. “We are also encouraging and persuading authors/publishers to provide e-versions of their publications for free reading and paid downloads via micropayments,” she said.Also, while talking exclusively to Daily Times, PITB Chairman & Information Technology University Vice Chancellor Dr Umar Saif said, “The culture of reading and learning in our society is disappearing and that persuaded PITB to revive the lost culture of reading and learning among the general public and this is why we took the initiative to inculcate e-reading and e-learning culture among general public, students, teachers and our society at large.”He further said that a centralised digital library has been established and hosted at PITB data centre which would provide access to general e-books, e-thesis, documentaries, videos, audios, local and international e-newspapers, e-magazines and journals, text and reference books, data sets and e-newspapers through user friendly searching.“The collections have international standard metadata and classified into specific categories of subjects. Thousands of indigenous documents are accessible remotely free. Subscribed documents are accessible through computer terminals in 20 e-libraries. Access rights have also been defined accordingly,” he added.Published in Daily Times, June 22nd 2018.