In urgent need of repair

Monumental Structure

In urgent need of repair

Established in 1915, the Karnataka State Central Library at Cubbon Park is a well-used place. With over 1000 visitors a day and more than two lakh books, it is a popular haunt for bibliophiles of all ages. 

However, all isn’t well inside the great red structure — while repair work is needed for the exterior, readers often face the dilemma of having no catalogue to consult to or provision to issue books.

According to MM Badni, director, Department of Public Libraries, work can begin once the finances come through. “Other than the state library, there are different kinds of libraries at the city, zonal, district, ‘Gram panchayat’, slum and nomadic level. According to the Karnataka Public Libraries Act, 1965, there is a provision that the local body has to collect six per cent as library cess and remit that to the library authorities.

The concerned authority then makes a budget for future development. But the problem is that for the past six months, zonal library supplies haven’t paid paper bills. The BBMP has around Rs 80 crore pending but it isn’t remitting the library cess. Our ministers have tried to follow up but they tell us to wait saying they will pay soon,” he informs.

When asked why the issuing of books was stopped, Badni says, “When the library was renovated in 2007, the government ordered for the issuing to be stopped and for the place to be converted into a reference-only library. I will study why this was done and submit a proposal to restart the issuing of books if there is a good reason to.” 

On the lack of a comprehensive catalogue, he adds, “Cataloguing was stopped when the government submitted a proposal for digitisation. However, this has not happened yet and all we have is a list of the books in the library.”

Librarian Mamata says that the maintenance work is done here more regularly than other public libraries. “Compared to most public libraries, ours is in an extremely good condition — we dust every shelf once a week and use pesticides against rats and insects thrice a month. The binding of torn books is done every year to prevent degradation and we alsoupdate the books on an annual basis. The library is a well-respected place that sees not only students but people of all ages from different fields of life coming to read here for pleasure or work,” she says, speaking from her experience of 15 years. 

However, she admits that some repair work is necessary. “This is an old monumental building from the British days and we have maintained it as much as we could. But we are still waiting for the grant to replace the broken tiles on the roof,” notesMamata.While the building is by no means falling apart, the stench within the premises is another cause for concern. 

Varsha S, a visitor, says, “I love coming to the library in my free time. But it’s not a pleasant experience because of the toilet inside. There are also some abandoned rooms that need to be cleaned out. Visitors often come to use the toilet because it’s one of the only accessible ones in the park and that is a very distracting feature.” 

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