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Fund-starved libraries lack staff, books

Niveditha Jain, Bangalore, March 27, 2014, DHNS: 0:50 IST
The City Central Library at Hegganahalli. DH Photo
BBMP owes public libraries dept Rs 80 crore; no money to buy newspapers too

Shortage of funds has affected maintenance of public libraries in the City, with some of them having no money for newspapers and books. They are also not able to pay salaries to the staff, affecting the upkeep of the libraries.

According to Director, Department of Public Libraries, Mahantesh M Badni, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) owes the department more than Rs 80 crore.

“There are over 400 libraries in the City and it is difficult to run them without the support of the civic agency. While the library cess is used for administration purposes, the State government funds are utilised for paying wages and improving the infrastructure among others,” he said.

BBMP Deputy Controller of Finance Revanna told Deccan Herald: “Since January 2014, the library cess has not been paid to the Department of Public Libraries as there are some hiccups in property tax collection. However, salary and maintenance issues come under the purview of the Library department and it is also the State government's responsibility. We pay them money collected through library cess quarterly.”

One of the Palike officials said they pay Rs 20-Rs 25 crore every year as library cess. The Palike should give six per cent of library cess collected under property tax from citizens to the deputy director of Libraries, who will in turn release it to library management, said a chief librarian.

N Nanjunda Swamy, a 63-year-old resident of Vijayanagar, said when he visited Hampinagar Public Library in the first week of March to read his favourite local newspapers, he found that many of them were not available.

"When I enquired, the library staff told me that they have not received funds from the BBMP and hence, they were unable to procure all the newspapers and other reading material.”

A regular visitor to the public library at Nagavara, Navya M said the library needs better maintenance and variety of books. Harish V, a librarian, said the library was not well-maintained since sweepers quit a few months ago due to payment issues.

Jyothi V, who works as a sweeper at public library on Haines Road, RT Nagar branch, has not been getting salary for the past two months.

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