Research scholars and regular readers at the National Library have written to its director, seeking immediate intervention to restore services at the library which have been non-functional for quite some time.
The researchers alleged that they had to wait for hours to get books and most of the time the ‘requisition slips’ for books were returned to them with remarks such as ‘out’ or ‘confined to library’ written on them.
“It is really frustrating if you get such replies after waiting for two hours,” said Gautam Roy, a research scholar in History. He alleged that the employees “sit and gossip and the authorities do not take any action’. The scholars maintained that authorities should take immediate steps to improve work culture at the library.
Sudakshina Kar Dasgupta, a scholar currently doing PhD from Illinois University said: “I wanted to see some old newspapers and most of them have become brittle due to lack of maintenance and complaints made to the authorities have fallen flat.”
The readers alleged that for quite some time the authorities had failed to provide minimum amenities to the readers and researchers in an educational environment.
They also said that it had become impossible and suffocating to work at the library at Bhasha Bhavan as the central air conditioning system has not been working for the past one week. However, the Central Public Works Department had not made any alternative arrangement. The authorities and CPWD engineers are blaming each other, affecting the interest of the readers.
Moreover, water purifiers are not functioning and the stinking toilets have not been cleaned despite repeated complaints.
Some readers said they had filed a Public Interest Litigation to know how much money the CPWD was allotted to look after the upkeep of the heritage property.
The Imperial Library, which was later renamed as National Library, stands on 30 acre of land. The Imperial Library was opened on January 30, 1903 at Metcalf Hall when Lord Curzon was the Viceroy. John MacFarlane, assistant librarian of the British Museum, was appointed the first librarian of the Imperial Library. Its first Indian librarian was the noted polyglot Harinath De.
The National Library has a collection of 26,41,615 books. The total number of digitised documents is 21,250 while the total number of maps and manuscripts is 88,162 and 3,231 respectively.