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Poet’s way of treasuring the past

Balasore, June 13: The Biswa-Tara Gabesana Gaara, a library founded by eminent Oriya poet Brajanath Rath three years ago, is a golden feather in the literary cap of this coastal district.

The public library houses over 10,000 books and 25,000 periodicals. The books and magazines written in Oriya, English and Hindi on varied topics are categorised under novels, fictions, autobiographies, biographies, travelogues, children’s literature and so on.

A part of this invaluable collection dates back to the pre-independence era while the first publication of Dagar, the first story magazine printed in 1937 with litho offset technology is available at the library. Apart from this, Kumkum – a handwritten Oriya magazine published from Mumbai, and Agarani – the first Oriya story magazine of Hrudananda Mallick printed in Calcutta can be found here.

“The collections in our library have crossed the 25,000-mark,” said the founder, Rath, who has named the three-storeyed building after his parents. He runs the library from his own house at Sunhatt here. Illustrious writer Manoj Das had inaugurated it in 2008.

“The main objective of the library is to cater to the needs of research scholars. In the last three years, several research scholars, including some from other districts, and even Nepal, have visited the place,” he said.

As a kid, Rath had a habit of collecting books. He has all of them in store now. “After collecting a large number of books, magazines and periodicals, I came up with the idea of establishing a library. Besides my own collection, the library has books which were donated to it,” said the litterateur.

He added the second floor of his home-cum-library would provide accommodation to scholars, two at a time, who would like to stay and pursue their research work.

“Neither have I officially registered the library nor do I have any interest in asking for state support. This is just my way of treasuring the past in printed form for the younger generations to gain knowledge,” he said, adding that he would set up a trust for his library.

The literary circle of Balasore also takes pride in the library. “We feel proud that a man of literary interest has founded a library, which is far superior than our district library and the one managed by the state,” said Subash Patra, a retired teacher.

Rath has earned several awards and recognitions, including the prestigious Orissa Sahitya Akademi award, Gangadhar Meher Sahitya Samman and Rashtriya Sahitya Samman for Hindi literature. He was also conferred upon an honorary doctorate this year by the Fakir Mohan University here his contribution to Oriya literature.

Last month, he, along with six others of the country, received an award from New Delhi’s Sahitya Akademi and Samsung India for his creation, Samanya Asamanya, a collection of 30 poems, which was published in 2007 by a local publisher.

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