Delhi’s century-old Hardayal Library to be restored, 8,000 books to be preserved | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Delhi’s century-old Hardayal Library to be restored, 8,000 books to be preserved

delhi Updated: Dec 07, 2016 12:28 IST
Parvez Sultan
Hardayal Library

As reported by HT last month, the library, which was established in 1862, has not purchased a single book due to the financial crunch. (Saumya Khandelwal//HT PHOTO)

Hurdles in the way of conservation of Delhi’s oldest library Hardayal Municipal Public Library near Chandni Chowk have been cleared with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) handing over the task of preparing a detail project report for its restoration to Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

Apart from its cosmetic restoration work, INTACH has also planned preservation of rare books and their digitalisation. The library possesses a rare historical collection of 8, 000 books including Travaile Begvenne’s ‘Relation of some year’ printed in 1634, a handwritten Koran by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, and Persian translation of Mahabharata by Abul Raizi.

As reported by HT last month, the library, which was established in 1862, has not purchased a single book due to the financial crunch.

Hardayal Library is in for a revamp, where its collection of books will be digitised. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)

Read more: Delhi’s historic libraries are in a monumental mess

The decision came after much persuasion and intervention of Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung. With the plaster peeling off, the century-year old building has been crying for urgent attention for long as roof and walls have developed cracks, leading seepages and leakages.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has agreed to shell out Rs3 crore for the project. “Initially, provision for funds for structural restoration was made. Later, it was decided to take measures to prevent books from further damage. If we don’t do the needful to preserve these rare books, no purpose is served. A library is nothing without books,” said Shobha Vijender, library’s secretary.

Out of the total budget, Rs50 lakh will be spend on preservation of books and the equal amount has been set aside for their digitalisation.

Vijender said the management body had entrusted the task of preparing a detail project report (DPR) for preservation of the building and the collection of rare books to INTACH.

“They are likely to submit the report soon after which the tendering for engaging experts for conservation will start the work. We are expecting the DPR by the end of this month and the entire project may take at least two-three years time for completion,” she said, adding, that the agency recently gave a proposal in this regard and the management committee has also given its go ahead.

Though, the library is an autonomous body, its financial requirement is taken care of by the NDMC. The mayor of the corporation is the ex-officio president of the managing committee of the library.

The library committee has also planned a month-long events calendar to celebrate its centennial year. The first round of three days celebration will start from Wednesday in which authors such as Ashok Chakradhar and Vartika Nanda along with Union minister Smriti Irani, Dr Mahesh Sharma and Dr Harsh Vardhan will be present. Rock bank Indian Ocean will also perform at the event scheduled at Shanti Desai Cricket Ground, Kauria Pul, near Chandni Chowk.

CONSERVING CITY’S OLDEST LIBRARY
The Hardayal Municipal Public Library possesses a rare historical collection of 8, 000 books. The DDA has allotted ₹3 crore for the restoration of the library after INTACH submitted a proposal in a project report, highlighting the damages to the structure
AGE OF RESTORATION
  • The entire terrace requires a layer of water proofing and a cover of ceramic tiles
  • ’Khurra’, a depression just before the outlet of rain water pipe, is needed to avoid seepage
  • Coating of water retardant material is required on exposed sandstone ‘chajjas’
  • Layers of old paint needs to be from the outer walls. Repair and repainting needed
  • Flooring must be relaid
  • Installation of air conditioners because a certain temperature is required for preservation of books
  • Adequate lighting arrangements
  • Preservation of rare books and their digitalisation
GEMS IN LIBRARY’S CHEST
  • Travaile Begvenne’s ‘Relation of some year’ printed in 1634
  • A handwritten Koran by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb
  • Persian translation of Mahabharata by Abul Raizi
HISTORY
  • Hardayal Municipal Library was originally set up in 1862 as Lawrence Institute Library in Town Hall, Chandni Chowk
  • It served as reading clubfor the British
  • In 1902, it was renamed as the Delhi Public Library and shifted to a small building in Kaccha Bagh
  • The library was renamed as Hardinge Municipal Public Library in 1916
  • In 1942, an MoU was signed between the library and the erstwhile Municipal Committee
  • In 1970, the library was renamed as Hardayal Municipal Public Library
  • Viceroy Lord Hardinge was attacked while he was in a procession, organised by freedom fighters led by Lala Hardayal. The viceroy escaped the attack and to commemorate this, a committee was formed soon after to construct a building for the Delhi Public Library under the presidentship of Rai Bahadur Lala Sheo Prasad
PROMINENT PATRONS
  • MAHATMA GANDHI
  • JAGMOHAN, former Jammu & Kashmir governor and Union minister
  • TN CHATURVEDI, former home secretary and governor of Karnataka
  • SHANTI DESAI, former Delhi mayor
  • SHAUKAT ALI HASHMI, freedom fighter
  • BHAI MAHAVIR, RSS pracharak and former governor of Madhya Pradesh