Building Public Library Collection in India: A Study of Book and Non-book Material.

Author:Ansari, Mehtab Alam


The purpose of any library is to provide service that is relevant to its community. However, this is not possible without proper collection. Public library is public property where every person such as teacher, doctor, farmer, businessman and many other person can use information without any discrimination. According to IFLA/UNESCO (2010), public libraries have "an important role in the development and maintenance of a democratic society by giving the individual access to a wide and varied range of knowledge, ideas and opinions". It further point out that "the primary purposes of the public library are to provide resources and services in a variety of media to meet the needs of individuals and groups for education, information and personal development including recreation and leisure" (IFLA/UNESCO, 2010).

With more than 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populous country in the world. Having a total area of 3,287,263 sq. km. spread over 29 states and 7 union territories, India ranks seventh in the world. The literacy rate is 74.04 % (Census of India, 2011). The state of West Bengal in India has a population of more than 91 million spread on 19 districts. However, pre-dominant population speaks Bangla language.

Murshidabad district which is comprised of five subdivisions such as Berhampore, Domkol, Lalbag, Kandi and Jangipur with 26 blocks. Majority of the population in this district is Muslim (66.28%). The literacy rate of the district is 66.59% (Males 69.95% and Females 63.09%) (Census of India, 2011). Pre-dominated population of the district is engaged in agriculture related actuates. The present paper aims to find out the collection development and management of public libraries in Murshidabad district of West Bengal.


The objectives of the study are as follows:

* To examine the collection development policy in India.

* To analyse the pattern of budget allocations in West Bengal.

* To know the procedure used for acquisition of documents in public libraries.

* To ascertain the usage of library collections in public libraries

Early Developments

Although, India has a long and rich history of libraries but developments related to public libraries have been witnessed only in the first quarter of the last century. Hellings noted that "In the early twentieth century, S.R. Ranganathan began his legendary work towards establishing public libraries in India like those he saw when visiting the United Kingdom" (Helling, 2012). However, the first major initiative that was taken by the government of India in the post-independence period was the appointment of Sinha Committee. Unfortunately, committee did not show satisfaction with regard to the public library system in India. Libraries were reported as a 'stagnant pool of books' and users were required to put down the monetary deposits difficult to be afforded by lower classes. The committee, notably, recommended the major overhaul of public libraries based on hierarchical system of state library networks and uniform library legislation (Ghosh, 2005). It further recommended revision of the curriculum used to educate library professionals (Joshi, 2010). Another significant development had been witnessed, in 1972, in the form of the establishment of the Raja Ram Mohan Library Foundation (RRRLF). The RRRLF is a multifaceted organisation that works in many ways to improve the conditions of public libraries in India. For instance, the RRRLF funds 28 state libraries and acts as a resource and training centre for the creation of public libraries all over India (Ghosh, 2005).

National Library Policy in India

It was ascertained that the pathetic condition of public libraries in India has been due to absence of any national level body. Having realized this vacuum, a committee was set up under the chairmanship of Prof. D.P. Chattpadhyay to formulate a National Policy on Library & Information System (NAPLIS). The committee submitted its report in 1986. Following that, another committee examined the report and suggested an action plan for its implementation (Bhattacharjee, 1999). The empowerment committee submitted in 1988 and an implementation cell was created to implement its recommendations within a period of six months. Subsequently, a working group under the Joint Secretary was constituted to examine its recommendations for implementation. The working group submitted its report in July 1993 and suggested implementing only 29 of 60 recommendations made by the NAPLIS (Wani, 2008). However, level of progress from state to state is highly variable. Significantly, some states have announced e-government projects, some have also lunched technology literacy initiatives, but surprisingly few of them have done nothing (Nikam et al, 2004).

Scope of the Study

India is a diversified country with the second largest population next to China and the seventh largest country on the basis of the area (3,287,263 sq. km.). It has more than 1,210,854,977, population which is spread over the 29 states and 7 union territories. According to Census of India, 2011 the overall literacy rate is 74.04 %.

The state of West Bengal in India is the fourth most populated state which covers 88,752 sq. km area. The total population is 91,347,736 spread over 19 districts. The literacy rate is 77.08%. West Bengal is religiously diverse with multilingual and multicultural population. Pre-dominant population speaks Bengali language. As per the Census of India 2011, Hindu forms the majority with over 70% of total population. Muslims are the second largest population (27.01%). A tiny population also consists of Sikh, Christen and Buddhist in West Bengal. After enactment of the West Bengal Public Libraries Act in 1979, there has been a significant increase in number of public libraries in West Bengal. It is worthy pointing out here that the Public Library System in West Bengal comprises of 12 Government Libraries with State Central Library at the apex, 2460 Government Sponsored Libraries at different levels, and 7 Government Aided Libraries. There exists a three-tier library system in every districts viz. (i) Rural/Primary Unit/Area Libraries, (ii) Town/Sub-division Libraries and (iii) District Libraries (Annual Report of the Directorate of Library Services, 2011-12). However, the scope of the present study is limited to Murshidabad district.

Murshidabad is one of the oldest cities in West Bengal named after the Nawab Murshid Quli Khan. Spread over an area of 5316.11 sq. km. having 71, 02, 430 populations. Significant population of Murshidabad is engaged in agriculture. The literacy rate of the district is 63.88%. There are 160 public libraries in whole district of Murshidabad having three categories with composition as one district library, 9 town/sub-division libraries and 150 rural libraries. Notably, present study covers total number of 21 libraries with 1 district library, 5 town libraries/sub-division libraries and 15 rural libraries. Table 3 list of the name of all surveyed libraries.

Review of Related Literature

Kaur and Walia (2015) in their paper have attempted to find out collection development and management in the public libraries in Delhi. Authors pointed out those public libraries in Delhi are governed by the Government or its agencies and they compare public libraries in Delhi with the international standards for public libraries. Authors have further pointed out that the public libraries in Delhi are not making the desired efforts to reach out the public. Wani (2008) in his paper gave an over-view of public library development in India tracing its historical background and extending up to the present time. It describes initiatives under taken by private foundation...

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