Precious library needs helping hand

Facility at Town Hall building has one of earliest printed copies of Constitution

The municipal staff library at the nearly 150-year-old historic Town Hall building in Chandni Chowk, which houses one of the earliest printed copies of the Constitution, is in shambles.

While dust is piled over the books as well as tables and chairs in its reading room, stacks of newspapers can be seen dumped between the rows. Since 2008, the library has been run by assistant librarian Praveen Kumar Bansal. “After my persistant requests, the North Corporation gave me an assistant, a beldar,” Bansal told Deccan Herald.

The library is frequented by those who need to get ‘no-objection certificate’ during their transfer or retirement. But once in a while it is also visited by Delhi University students and scholars from abroad. One such visitor from New Zealand left quite an impression on Bansal. “I can’t forget her. She took a book which was torn in many places but when she returned the book, it was in a much better condition,” said Bansal.

One of the attractions of this library is a rare copy of the Constitution. “The library has one of the 12 originally printed copies of the Constitution. It also bears the signs of the members of the constituent assembly, including Jawaharlal Nehru and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, after whom the Civic Centre is named,” said Bansal, showing the copy of the Constitution. “The book has got different pattern on every page. Sometimes we also receive requests to buy the book from visitors,” he added.

The assistant librarian said he has been making rounds of the civic agency for more staff but to no avail. “Recruitment has not taken place for the past six to seven years. The upkeep of the municipal library becomes challenging,” he said.

When asked about the condition of the library, a senior official of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation said, “The civic agency is mulling to shift the library to the Civic Centre to give it a new lease of life and save the valuable books.”

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