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In the past eight years of his rule, the home turf of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda might have seen changes in terms of infrastructural growth, reflected by the government buildings constructed in a modern style, but the district library remains as it was.
The district library, started in 1971 at the old Zila Vikas Bhawan with an aim to develop reading culture on the pattern of Kerala and West Bengal, was shifted to a building in the HUDA complex in 1995 due to flood threat.
However, the second-largest library in the state, with over 3,000 members from all strata, and is visited by 100-150 people regularly, has been neglected to the extent that the books are in threat of being spoiled by pests, a library official alleged, on the condition of anonymity.
He alleged that when library officials in 2000 demanded that the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) renovate and maintain the library, the authorities told them to write to the public works department (PWD), who told them to talk to HUDA authorities.
Rakesh Kumar, a former member of the library, said, “I used to visit the library while preparing for state-level and centre-level examinations five years ago. While I found the books and journals quite informative, several had been eaten away by pests. More than 45,000 other books face the same end, as no steps have been taken to repair and maintain the building.”
Another reader said that the right ambience was required so people could sit in the library for a long time, but the furniture wore an old and worn out look during the rainy season, when the
entrance also became waterlogged.
A library official alleged that while certain staff was needed to run any library successfully, this library was “headless” and did not have a full-time senior librarian, junior librarian and restorer.
“Due to lack of top management, important jobs like management of books, catalogue preparation and classification of books suffer,” he added.
DR Chaudhry, a former Delhi University professor and an avid reader who has written several books on social issues, said,” The state has always lagged behind in terms of reading, writing and critical analysis, due to the state government’s lack of focus. In order to promote healthy social growth and wipe out evils like casteism, regionalism and sectarianism, the government should focus on developing libraries in the state.”
Government College for Women principal Luxmi Beniwal, who holds the controlling charge of the library, could not be contacted in spite of repeated attempts.