Readers at Pallisri Pathagar. Picture by Gopal Senapati
The narrow brick road becomes narrower still as one enters Hirapur Bazar. Tucked away in a corner is Pallisri Pathagar, which serves both as a library and a village common room. Locals come here not just to read books but also to socialise. The population of Nalpur and Raghudebbati mainly comprises labourers of mills and factories, many of whom are literate and like to read for their pastime.
The library has 16,782 books and a number of sections. A dedicated children’s section, textbook section for reference work by the local students, a career guidance section that has helped many youths from the village find good jobs, and a senior citizens’ section where the elders get their choice of titles. Pallisri Pathagar is a town library that was upgraded to this status in 1987 when the state government had taken up the project of upgrading 114 rural libraries around West Bengal to the status of town library. This upgradation was done on the basis of books and the number of members of the library.
Santosh Kumar Hazra, the headmaster of a private school, and his two assistant teachers, Lakshman-chandra Dey and Patit Paban Patra, started a small library in 1951 in Nalpur. However, this library did not survive very long. Later, Patit Paban Patra started a library with the help of the villagers of Raghudebbati. The members visited the homes of villagers and asked them to donate books. They collected 192 books and found 16 members. In 1966 the members bought land and constructed the present two-storeyed building. In 1970, Pallisri Pathagar was registered as a rural library and in 1987 it became a town library.
A good number of students from the local school, Raghudebbati Sadharaner Vidyalaya and another girls’ school are members of this library. Out of 868 members, 478 are children. “Students heavily depend on this library for their reference work. Most of them come from Nalpur, Raghudebbati, Hirapur and other areas,” said Ashok Kumar Das, the former librarian of Pallisri Pathagar. A wall magazine is published every two months from the library where local writers, poets and students contribute.
Being a town library, Pallisri Pathagar does not face a funds crunch. The annual grant of Rs 48,000 is sufficient to run the library expenses. The library has also received grants from the state library services department as well as the Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation (RRRLF).
The library authorities face a space crunch. “We will apply for a fund for building extension this year so that we can extend this one,” said Das.
The only other problem is lack of staff. Ever since its registration, the library has never had a junior library assistant. “A town library should be provided with a library assistant and a night guard, but we only have a librarian and a book binder. There is no other staff in our library,” said Das.
- Name: Pallisri Pathagar
- Estd: 1952
- Address: Hirapur, Sankrail
- No of members: 868
- Membership fees: Rs 2 per month for general members, free for children
- Services: Children’s section, text book section, career guidance, senior citizens’ section