Doon valley’s heritage library, the Mahatma Khushi Ram Public Library and Reading Room — established in 1921 — completed 94 years on October 4. Over the past nine decades, generations of book lovers and scholars have visited this facility that is considered to be one of the oldest in the region.
On Sunday, a congregation of library members, book lovers, litterateurs and intellectuals will gather to pay rich tributes to its founder and local visionary Mahatma Khushi Ram, whose relentless efforts led to the setting up of this treasure trove that today houses over 45,000 books on a variety of subjects.
Shedding light on its history, current library president Chandra Bahadur Narang said in 1921, Mahatma Khushi Ram, a retired postmaster and philanthropist, expressed his desire to establish a library to the then chairman of the City Board, Rai Bahadun Uggar Sen.
Sen immediately got an allotment of the present land at 12, Gandhi Road after which Khushi Ram donated all the books he possessed as well as all his life’s savings to build the library of which Sen went on to be the founder-president. It eventually got registered as a society in 1955.
“We have books on a wide range of subjects, especially on India’s cultural heritage and national integration as well as on science, religion and philosophy. Besides the Upanishads, the Vedas and the Puranas, we also have modern encyclopedias, journals for students preparing for competitive exams and materials for researchers for their reading and reference,” Narang said.
There are also books on religion and spirituality in different languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, English, Bengali, Punjabi and Tamil among others.
However, with newer forms of communication coming in, the pioneer institution is today finding it a bit difficult to attract youngsters in as many numbers as it did initially.
“Reading habits among youngsters are on a decline in general with the rise of modern technological advancements, especially the internet. The library has a glorious legacy and we hope that we can keep its utilisation levels high even in future,” Narang said.