Tatarstan digitized only 0.2% of library fund in 10 years

The Republic of Tatarstan spends more than 8 million rubles annually to organize the work of the Electronic Library of the Republic of Tatarstan portal, including book digitization

Tatarstan digitized only 0.2% of library fund in 10 years
Photo: Maksim Platonov

The digitization of the publications stored in the libraries of Tatarstan has been carried out in the region since 2010. The “cradle” of former Russian Communications Minister Nikolay Nikiforov — the Information Technology Centre of the Republic of Tatarstan, is responsible for the technical aspect of the work to date. As Realnoe Vremya found out, in the first place, old and rare books are digitalized — for example, there are already lifetime editions of Gabdulla Tuqay's books in the public domain. It is impossible to convert the entire library collection to electronic form — there are problems with copyright. Over 10 years, they have digitalised 8,000 publications out of 3,5 million stored in the collections of Tatarstan libraries.

Rare and old books in the first place

Recently, the government of Tatarstan has issued a resolution approving the regulations on the state information system National Electronic Library of the Republic of Tatarstan. It was signed by Tatarstan Prime Minister Aleksey Pesoshin.

A detailed digitization methodology is attached to the regulation — for example, it says which publications should be digitized as a priority. Library collections are divided into two categories: the first includes particularly rare and valuable publications issued before 1830, and the second — publications of artistic and cultural value.

In the first category, old-printed Tatar books on Arabic graphics of the period 1800-1928, the first and lifetime editions of works by prominent figures of Tatarstan are subject to priority digitization. Books and documents in the Tatar language based on Latin graphics (yanalif), released before 1939, are digitalised on a compulsory basis.

In the second category, it is individual copies of local history and ethnic documents, small-circulation and expensive memorial publications that digitized in the first place.

Among equivalent publications, it is prescribed to process primarily those copies that are in poor condition: old, crumbling.

Among equivalent publications, it is prescribed to process primarily those copies that are in poor condition: old, crumbling. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Among the already digitized ones — Tuqay's lifetime publications

The pace of digitization, which began 10 years ago, is somewhat surprising. Currently, the portal offers just over 8,100 works, which is only a small part of the entire library fund of Tatarstan of 3,5 million books. Not all books can be published in the public domain. As Elina Yamalutdinova, the deputy director of the National Library of the Republic of Tatarstan for information and library services, explained to Realnoe Vremya, this can be done only with works that are no longer covered by copyright (in Russia, this is 70 years since the author's death). The rest can only be found “live” in libraries.

The National Library found it difficult to call the total number of books from library collections that are subject to digitization to Realnoe Vremya. According to Yamaletdinova, this volume is impossible to assess because the composition of the funds grows constantly.

Among the digitized books in the public domain, there are already really unusual copies. For example, on the website of the electronic library, you can find several books by Gabdulla Tuqay published during his lifetime. The collection of books by Ivan Vtorov has been completely digitized — this collection laid the foundation of the National Library of Tatarstan in the middle of the 19th century. There is also a collection of old printed publications, now books in Latin are being digitised.

By Alexander Artemyev
Tatarstan