Dust gathers on books written by Kartar Singh Duggal and other great writers of Punjab, as the administration continues to neglect Guru Nanak Dev District Library.
Built in 1957, the district library is suffering from the government’s apathy for decades. Staff crunch, meager funds and lack of newly published books plague the facility. Shelves carrying books arranged in an unplanned manner and gathering dust are a common sight. There are no Class 4 employees to maintain the facility and not even a single library restorer has been hired. The posts have been lying vacant for decades in the absence of fresh recuitments.
There was a time when the Jalandhar district library was considered to be the best in Punjab. But times have changed. No new book on Punjabi literature has entered its catalogue for the past many years, with only Rs 13,000-grant being given to it for procuring books every year. Books in the children’s section, too, are nearly 25 years old.
“It is not possible to buy new books in the absence of adequate grants. We receive books from Raja Ram Mohan Roy Library, Kolkata, but these are in English and Hindi,”said librarian Surinder Kaur.
The library has not received any maintenance grant for around 25 years, which hinders repair works. “Cracks have appeared in the building walls. Water drips from the ceiling during monsoons in the absence of any repairs,”said a library attendant. An auditorium built on the library premises by Kartar Singh Duggal in 2002 is also in a deplorable condition.
“I have been coming here for the past 20 years. Bookshelves in the library are termite-infested, and at times, it is difficult to even pick up a book,”said a regular visitor.
As for the collection of books, a student from Innocent Hearts School rues that the library lacks books of his interest. “I don’t find many books that I want to read. It does, however, offer books by Ruskin Bond, which are loved by almost every youngster,”he said.