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PATNA: Though the state government's move to revive and strengthen the district libraries is a welcome step, many other libraries located at sub-divisional towns, blocks and villages also require government attention. More than 3,000 village libraries have been closed for want of funds during the past two decades.
The condition of most of the village libraries is quite appalling. They lack basic reading materials, infrastructure and professionally qualified librarians. Most of them do not have money to purchase even daily newspapers. New books and periodicals are a distant dream.
The Planning Commission guidelines suggest that there should be at least one village library for a population of 1,000. In Bihar, the statistics is heavily skewed to one village library for a population of 90,000.
The new-look Panchayati Raj envisages setting up of one library in every panchayat. This will require opening of at least 10,000 new libraries in the state. One wonders who will take the initiative for setting up such a large number of libraries and where will they get the funds from, asks Patna University retired political science professor Bachoo Sinha.
At present, the per capita annual expenditure on library books in the state is only one paisa. The state, with a population of more than nine crore, spends a meagre Rs 10 lakh on purchase of books per year.
Educationists say there is direct correlation between the minimal expenditure on libraries and low literacy rate. In Kerala, where literacy rate is more than 95 per cent, over three per cent of the education budget is spent on libraries. In Bihar, the ratio of the education budget that goes into libraries is only 0.01 per cent.
The Raja Ram Mohun Roy Foundation, Kolkata, provides matching grant to the state for purchase of library books every year. While Uttar Pradesh sanctions a matching grant of Rs 1 crore, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh sanction matching grants of Rs 90 lakh and Rs 80 lakh respectively, Bihar sanctions only Rs 10 lakh for the grant-in-aid libraries.
There are six divisional libraries located at Gaya, Bhagalpur, Saharsa, Chhapra, Darbhanga and Muzaffarpur, each of them getting Rs 50,000 annually. Each of the 19 district libraries receives Rs 26,000, while each of 11 sub-divisional libraries gets Rs 18,000 per annum.
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I would like to know more about this. I am associated with a trust which tries to solve out these problems in best possible ways. Also Mr. Verma can you please brief about Mr. Tiwari's association to these issues.
Now it's time to reevaluate the situation of public libraries and Govt. should form a committee like Deshmukh committee to reestablishment of public libraries.
shi h ji