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Shabby state central library: A reflection of intellectual bankruptcy

state central library

There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration. — Andrew CARNEGIE

Pawan Chamling led Sikkim Democratic Front government boasts people of the State have been provided umpteenth facilities and enough social justice and accordingly they are enjoying enjoying democracy fully for the last fourteen years after SDF government came in power.
The record also says Sikkim has more than 75 per cent literacy rate in the country. Not only this, latest, the State government has formed a Human Development Commission under the chairmanship of Prof. B.K.RoyBurman, the first human development commission in India to improve the quality life of the people which means also to improve the education.

It is true the state government has done numerous developments and extended enough social justice but, in spite of all these achievements and activities of the government, it lacks one thing i.e., good and standard state central library in the state.
Library is very important thing for a civilized society. It is the reservoirs of strength, grace and wit. It maintains our past and determines our future. But the condition of present state central library of the state is in very pathetic condition. The state central library which was at community hall of development area two years back has been shifted and squeezed into a scanty damp room of State Sports Department adjacent to White hall as it still has not its own building and what is more, where it is put is in sorry state.

Most of the books in the shelf of library are full of fungus. Books reading are far cry; it even can not be touched with naked hands.
“We are facing big problems as there are funguses in the books and when the readers come we can not show them and give them the books in the shelf as they are full of fungus,” a staff grieves.

They also said one of their staff had caught eczema and some fungus related disease from these books. Though, the books are being taken to Archive section for its treatment. These are put in fumigation chambers to remove fungus. But at a time only 100 books can be put and it takes more than two weeks to be fully treated.

Dearth of books is another problem for the readers. In total there are only 18000 English books, 14000 Nepali, 5000 Hindi and Bhutia. They, however, are just in number filler. There are not any good and important books available.

The copies of the government documents like parliament and assembly proceeding, white papers and documents of the policies of the government, the copies of the publications in the State are not available there. Neither there is any facility of internet surfing, books catalogues and other facilities to access knowledge. So the students and scholars have mostly missed the library.

On standard library, Dr.Jyoti Praksah Tamang, a professor of Sikkim University and a renowned scientist of North India, says the state is need of a state of art state central library. “As in Sikkim, many modern educational institutions are coming up. Apart from there is a Sikkim University likes central university in the state. The intellectual activities are growing day by day. Thus a well equipped central library is a most and it is need of the hour,” Dr.Tamang says.
He also opines the number of library users is an indicator of human development index of the state. The more users, the more human development, he says.

As to why the central library of the State still has not come up standard Mr. P.Lepcha, curator of the library, said no fund is kept aside for the libraries. It has to bank on cultural and heritage affair department for fund as well as doing any activity.” Mr. Lecpha says.

He also holds the views a Directorate of library would work out the apathetic condition of library of state. In the state there is still not sufficient system making standard and well equipped library. We are living in the mercy of Cultural Heritage Department like parasite. So, if there was Directorate, there would be trained manpower and sufficient fund would be allocated by the government for smooth functioning of the libraries of the state,” Mr.Lepcha said.

But, people are also equally responsible for the grim condition of the library especially Central State library. Absence of good library is not out and out fault of the government. “The government is only a facilitator of basic infrastructure. But the rest development should be done by the users, Dr.Tamang opines.

Mr.Lecpha says, now a day people go to internet cafe to browse their information and want to watch TVs for infotainment. Where they have time to come here?
Kundan Kumar, a journalist working with PTI, says a central library wouldn’t only provide knowledge but such library is an ideal place for the writers and journalist to discuss and share their knowledge.

An advisory board comprising of member from intellectual background is necessitate. If there are such members the library administration can get sufficient feedback and good suggestion to improve the standardisation of library. On this Dr.Tamang says half of the members should be selected from intellectual background so that they will advise the respective department how to run the library .This is also one of the conditions to run library.

Mr.Lecpha , however, says there is already a library advisory committee wherein a prominent intellectual and littérateur Mr. G.S.Lama, President of Sikkim Academy is nominated as member. But he alone can not bring about any change, Mr.Lecpha says.

Mr.P.L.Sharma, secretary (administration) of Sikkim academy also thinks a complete and modern library would not only provide the books and knowledge to the people of Sikkim. But this will be a prestige for the state.” Sikkim is the tourist destination .Some tourists may want to know about the Sikkim by visiting libraries of the State. If there was a state of art library, of course, he would be impressed and it would be a prestige for the state, Sharma said.
Published: 2009-03-10
Author: D.B Rai

About the author or the publisher
I am post graduate diploma in mass communicationa and journalism.
www.himalayanreporter.com

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