During Open Steps’s journey around the world discovering Open Knowledge initiatives, the existence of a global community of like-minded individuals and groups became clear. Across the 24 countries we visited, we could meet people working on Open Knowledge related projects in every single one of them. Currently, and thanks to social networks, blogs, discussion groups…
Founded in 1950 and named after the university’s first chancellor, the Smt. Hansa Mehta Library represents a remarkable example of making knowledge accessible to everyone. Professor Dr. Mayank Trivedi, University librarian since 2010, gave us the opportunity to run our workshop in Baroda (Gujarat state) and to discuss with him about Knowledge Sharing in academic institutions.
Leading a group of 125 staff members, Professor Dr. Trivedi has brought new ideas to the library. On his initiative and launched three months ago, the Open Knowledge Gateway is an internet platform where everyone, not only students of the university, can access a vast amount of educational content for free and in several languages. From Thesis to E-Books, through academic online courses, the daily updated database links the user to valuable information without needing to register or moving away from his desk and serves as a perfect start point for any research work.
The passion and commitment of Dr. Trivedi and his team, who have realised a tremendous effort to put all the information together, has achieved important results. Since its start, the platform has attracted more than 23000 visitors.
During our discussion, we agreed that these online resources should be more present, specially in countries where not everyone has access to traditional education. We could also experience about other interesting projects the library is currently realising. Such as IR, a platform (based on the open source software DSpace) for digitalising and archiving thesis which, among other similar repositories, is integrated in Shodnganga.
Our workshop gathered around 40 participants: students, researchers and part of the library staff, what represents the most attended of our events so far. Interestingly, this time software developers and computer scientists were counted in a small number. However, this fact did not affect the general interest of the audience regarding our technical demonstration on how to visualise open data using cartodb.
Teaching about open data and its visualisation in an academic context has been something new but very enriching for us and the next steps of our project. In a very relaxed atmosphere, we could exchange with the participants about the situation of Open Data in India and the benefits of open cultures, specially in the academic area. Many questions arose related to Open Source software in library science and also about where to find data sources for research purposes.
Although India has been participating in the Open Government Initiative since 2012 and the government has being releasing data on their platform since then, it is relevant to say that the majority of the attendees were not aware of this yet. Actually, the concept of Open Data and the existence of organisations as the OKFN was something new for a great number of participants. This motivates us to keep on divulging these principles. We are still visiting other places in the sub continent and look forward for the upcoming encounters.