Audio books library for people who are blind introduced in Oman

MUSCAT: The Oman Digital Library (ODL), which was launched in 2004 and has more than 40,000 documents, recently launched a section for people who are blind, called the Library of Light.

Al-kawkab website screenshotAt the Library of Light, users can browse the site with the help of a digital voice and listen to audio books.

Beginning next month, ODL will also launch a digital museum and a digital library for children will be introduced in October.

ODL director Saleh al Zeheimi said Library of Light was launched as the result of a recent research. ”We took a tour of libraries in the sultanate, looking for digital material for the visually impaired. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a single library offering such a service. So we decided to do something about it.”

Although the section was initially launched with just four books, Zeheimi said that work is going on to add more audio books. ”Recordings are on for books on Omani history, the arts, Islam, some theses and dissertations, in addition to secondary and elementary school books.”

He said that navigation is simple through a digital number keyboard. Numbers zero to nine can be used to browse through the books.

ODL currently has five sections. Apart from the Library of Light section, it also has a digital library, manuscript centre, thesis section, and an index of all the material available in 11 Omani libraries.

”Soon we will be adding a digital museum section, which will have high quality images of Oman from the past and present,” Zeheimi said. The library has about 500 pictures at present, including those from places outside Oman, such as Zanzibar. ”Nearly 200 pictures are of aflaj and Omani doors while others depict everyday life, geography and Oman’s natural wonders. Each image will be accompanied by a small description.”

After the digital museum, the next project ODL will launch is a children’s digital library. ”We will start with story books and insert active sounds to make reading more enjoyable for kids. Later, we will include books on lighter subjects for children to browse through.”

ODL is offering indexing services on more than 125,000 materials spread across 11 libraries in Oman. In addition, it has 750 digital theses and dissertations, 200 digital books and more than 20,000 manuscripts, of which about 4,000 are in digital format.

The objective of the project is to maintain the intellectual heritage of Oman by providing the requisite material at the touch of a button. ”In facilitating access to the books and material, we are encouraging a knowledge-based society where it is easy for anyone to research on and investigate Oman from the comfort of their homes or offices,” Zuheimi added.

For more Information, visit www.al-kawkab.net

Source: Muscat Daily