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Library development in India

LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SERVICES IN INDIA - States and Union Territories (On The Eve of Millennium): M. K. Jain - Chief Editor; P. B. Mangla, D. R. Kalia and Neela Jagannathan - Editors; Shipra Publications, 115-A, Vikas Marg, Shakarpur, Delhi-110092. Rs. 750.

HERE IS a book that presents information about the development of libraries in each State and Union Territory of India. Librarians and library science experts have written articles on the development of libraries in six regions viz. north, east, north- east, south, west and in Union Territories. In all, there are 30 valuable articles covering Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttranchal, Bihar and Jharkhand, Orissa, Sikkim, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and six States - Mizoram, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu (i) and (ii), Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra (i) and (ii), Andaman and Nicobar, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry.

The articles in general follow a set pattern of presentation. At the beginning, a brief history of the state or UT

is given followed by historical background of the establishment of libraries.Theexisting libraries are categorised as under: public libraries, academic libraries and special libraries. The growth and development of libraries under each head are then traced. Statistical details of holdings, use and budgetary allocations are also given. There is information on library education and training in states. The steps taken for library legislation are discussed. Details of formation and functioning of library associations are also presented. Each article concludes with the comments of the authors on the existing services and suggestions made for their improvement.

The value of the book would have been further enhanced if information on the wage structure of the manpower had also been presented. This would have given a view of the development of librarians also!

Most of the contributors are noted to be from departments of library and information science, i.e. teachers. Though no doubt they are eminently fit and qualified to write the articles, if "working librarians'' had also been included, the benefit of their rich experience and working knowledge would have been there and a critical study made of the systems and services in vogue. A few cases to prove this point are presented hereunder: The Madras Public Libraries Act, 1948, was drafted by Dr. S. R. Ranganathan with the intention that it should be a local body service. As such he made provision for the establishment of Local Library Authority in each district, to function as an autonomous body, independent of state government control, intrusion and interference.

He further envisaged a free public library service all over the state, with the proviso for levy of library cess. To ensure the safe return of books borrowed by members, the Local Library Authorities collected a refundable deposit amount.

Now, Tamil Nadu is collecting an annual "membership fee". This is to be considered as a retrograde step. How far this is in order and justifiable, when a library cess is being levied, is debatable.

Further how far this will stand the scrutiny of law is a matter of conjecture! Here is an issue to be taken up by the LLAs and library associations.

Further the Department of Public Libraries, Tamil Nadu, boasts itself of being the pioneer in the "centralised purchase of books" for all public libraries in the state run by local library authorities.

This is over-centralisation with a vengeance! It is a pity the local library authorities have been given the go-by and stripped of their power and main obligation to society. The Local Library Authorities have no authority even in the purchase of books suited to local needs and tastes of its readers!

Excepting for the four States in the south, Maharashtra and West Bengal who at least have the basic structure, in the rest of the Sates and UTs the growth is haphazard with no significant and planned development.

As stated, libraries in India are passing through a very crucial period. In the computer age, the important thing to do is the computerisation of libraries, especially academic and special libraries, for effective and efficient services.

Out of 29 States and six Union Territories only 10 have enacted public library legislation.

This is the state of affairs even after more than 50 years of Independence. Now that we have this volume which presents an overall view of the libraries in India, it is for the library associations to come together and discuss at length the present state of affairs and work out a plan for the betterment of existing services and extension of the same by a system of resource sharing through a network of libraries and information centres. Collection of reliable and update information about libraries in the whole of India is no easy task.

The contributors, advisory committee and the editors have to be congratulated for a job well done. This book is a welcome addition to the library literature. This should be of interest and value to library professionals, educationists, students, planners and administrators. One hopes this book will set the ball rolling for the extension of library services throughout the length and breadth of India.

M. P. GOVINDARAJ

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