India is a country rich in diversity in languages, cultures, customs and religions. Records of this complete culture, secret manuscripts and related documents of the respective religions, and 3,000 years of Indian history are available in their respective languages in different museums and libraries across the country. When the automation of libraries started in India, immediately the issue of localization of library and museum databases emerged. The issue became even more apparent with the advent of digital libraries and interoperability. At the start of automation, in the absence of proper standards, professionals tried to romanize documents as computers used to accept only binary digits of roman script to represent the English language. Later, the development of a new technology, ISCII, which is an extended form of the ASCII values from 126 to 255, helped library professionals in either developing the bilingual bibliographic databases or bilingual text files on DOS or Unix based applications. Gradually the font for Windows‐based applications was developed for creating Web sites or document files. But now, with the requirement of different languages in the world including Indian, there is a forum available called “Unicode, Inc.” which provides a solution to the localization problem of the world's languages. In this paper, Unicode as a multilingual standard is explained and the related technology available for localizing the Indian language materials is discussed.
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