Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Public Libraries

Public libraries in our countries were established during the British
Raj. They are still the most important place for getting information
in the best indexed way. You may counter it by placing it against the
Google or the virtual libraries in the west. But public libraries have their own importance,
which cannot be neglected. My intention of writing this
article is to reflect the state of ignorance among the people about
these libraries.
Take the example of my own city of Jabalpur.

In my city about 10% people know a place called Town Hall, they simply
use it as a landmark.
Of these 10% only 10% know what is in it.
And of these 10 % only 10 % goes inside it, simply to read newspapers
for free, just because the place is close to them.
Of these 10%, which is around 1000, only 600-700 are members.
{Note: Population of Jabalpur city is around 14 Lakhs or 1.4 million
including the Jabalpur Cantonment)

Now these libraries contain huge collection of books which are not
only rare but are classics of their time. I personally have seen many
books published in the early 20th century. These books are not
available in the open market, so if they are lost or not returned by
members can cause a complete disappearance from a specific city. Just
consider the impact it will have for the common man who has no
internet access or money to purchase it from the metros. People from
all strata of society come here, I have seen a beggar who is a
member here. Employees are good and supportive but they can't do more
to improve the situation.
Now I have certain suggestion:-
1. Government should select the title of books which are rare all over
the country for digitalizing them. Then they should be sent to the
libraries in which they are missing or damaged in the paper format.
2. If a book is found missing for more than 6 months and its copy is
not in the library it should be immediately reordered.
3. Missing books should not be reordered on the basis of their demand
from members. I mean we can have a situation were a certain book may
have lost his interest among the members for a certain time period but
they may reemerge as an on demand book.
4. Last but not the least people should form groups in their cities
called "friend of public libraries" to raise the interest among the
people. This concept is already there and I read it once in an
At last I like to say public libraries are our common knowledge and we
should protect them for whatever the price we have to pay.