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Library ceiling portion falls

The damaged portion of the ceiling at the North Bengal State Library in Cooch Behar. Picture by Main Uddin Chisti

Cooch Behar: A portion of ceiling at the North Bengal State Library whose collections include centuries old manuscripts of the Cooch Behar royal family has collapsed.

Employees of the library, located on the bank of Sagar Dighi, as well as readers are worried over the concrete fall a few days ago.

The library was set up in 1956.

"A few days back, a sizeable chunk of concrete fell from the ceiling at the passage. Although none was injured, the incident has left us worried. Every day, several readers visit the library. We are concerned about them as well as our own security," said Sisir Sarkar, the librarian.

Back in 1956, the two-storied building was known as the district-sponsored library. But in 1969, all the collections of books of the royal family were brought there. Since then, those valuable books and other documents are being kept at the library.

"The building is in immediate need of repair. We have already communicated with the state public works department to initiate repairs. But it is yet to begin. Meanwhile, chunks of concrete have started falling from the ceiling. We are also perturbed over the precious and rare collections of books of the royal family," said Sarkar.

According to him, the library has over 16,000 manuscripts, all of which had come from the royals. It also has several rare and old books printed as early as in 1630.

Added to these, there is a stock of around 80,000 titles of new and old books.

"There are some libraries in Calcutta and the surroundings, which, despite having a lesser collection than this library, have been recognised as A-grade libraries. The Cooch Behar library has been included in the B-Grade. Due to this difference, less grants and assistance come here. The facility could have been maintained in a much better manner if it had been included in the higher grade," said a senior resident who often visits the library.

A source in the state PWD department said a proposal had been sent to higher officials. "We are aware of the situation and waiting for approval of the work," said the source.

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