Libraries grapple with change

Some facilities cry for funds & upkeep

By Nidhi Sinha in Patna
  • Published 4.01.18
DYING OUT: The Gate Library in Gardanibagh. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh

Patna: Libraries in Patna are waging a war of existence in the rapidly changing world of computers, notebooks and Kindle readers.

"Our library receives government funds but it is insufficient for the maintenance of the library," lamented Anjay Kumar, the assistant librarian of Sinha Library, who has been working there for almost two years. "We draw up a budget which is sent to the government but our demands are not catered to."

But he was quick to mention one bright spark - increasing readership of the library - approximately 200 per day at present. "Sometimes it so happens that the number of readers go beyond the capacity of the library." The digitisation of the library, which has a collection of over 2 lakh books, some rare, is in process. But it still lacks proper funds and is in great need of maintenance.

Gate Library, established in 1916, is mainly known for holding SSC and Railway clubs. Librarian Madhu Rani said: "Our library has a footfall of 100 per day." However, The Telegraph could spot only 16 to 18 readers when it visited the library on December 29. Moreover, most readers mainly come for self-study or to read newspapers.

"I have visited the library twice for self-study," said RPS College student Avinash Kumar.

The library has a vast collection of Bengali and Urdu books. "In the past, lots of Bangla and Urdu students used to come here," said the librarian. Locked inside cupboards, the books looked lost to The Telegraph. With two reading rooms, 55 cupboards and over 10,000 books, the library lacks readership.

The British Library that had a controversial shutdown in 2001 took along with it the library culture from many Patnaites.

"We used to go there after our college to read novels and foreign magazines, such magazines that we could find nowhere else in Patna," lamented Nutan Kumar, a former student of Magadh University.

Around 14,000 books of the British Library were shifted to Ramakrishna Mission Ashram Library, which runs under the aegis of the Ramakrishna Mission Ashram, on Nala Road. "The library is well-maintained and has around 35,000 books on spirituality, philosophy and religion along with many newspapers and periodicals," said Sameera, a resident of Naya Tola.

Another woe that strikes Patnaites is the misleading "library" banner. "This is a self-study centre." This is what people get to hear when they enter a building bearing the 'library' banner.

Receptionist of M&I Library, Amit Kumar, said: "We don't have books. People come with their own books to study." The library, however, offers readers newspapers and magazines. Infinity Library on Boring Road is similar. The area is one filled with such "libraries".