Due to the apathetic attitude of the authorities concerned, libraries in different parts of the region are lying almost 'defunct', be at it Ferozepur, Abohar or Fazilka.
In the present 'digital era', although the people's interest to read books has declined, yet the authorities concerned are also at fault for the sorry state of libraries.
However, the main problem is that of funds. Due to the paucity of funds, libraries in the region are on the verge of closure.The district library at the Municipal Park here has as many as 4,100 members and once used to be frequented by several people daily. But, now the number of daily visitors has come down to less than even 20.
"There used to be more than one hundred visitors to the library daily, but with the passage of time, things worsened, and now there are very few visitors and most them are newspaper reading," Harmit Vidharthi, president, Kala Peed, a literary organisation.
There are only two employees, including a peon, in the library while. The post of librarian has been lying vacant for the last 21years. The financial condition of the library is so bad that the library does not have funds to buy newspapers daily. Only six newspapers are available here regularly. The library has no proper cataloguing of books available while good quality periodicals and magazines are rarely available, rued Vidyarthi.
The situation has been so for the last 35 years and nothing has been done to improve things despite requests from the staff and the readers. No official has also ever bothered to visit it over the years, said Anil Adam, a local writer.
The library has about 40,000 books and every year a number of NGOs donate books here, but due to lack of almirahs, more than
7,000 books are just packed in bags, regretted Adam.
Shashi Bala, president in-charge of the said, "the Raja Ram Mohan Rai Library, Kolkata, donates us some books monthly and recently we had purchased some books with some government grant."
The municipal library at Partap Park, Fazilka, was handed over to the local Press Club for maintenance and functioning a few years ago and, presently, the Press Club, not only manages the books stocked there, but is also trying hard to inculcate the habit of reading among the people by fetching the latest periodicals and magazines from time to time.
"The state government should facilitate some funds to let us better manage the library'" quoted Davinder Singh, president, Press Club, Fazilka.
"Another library at Sadhu Ashram, Fazilka, has more than 5,000 religious books including rare scriptures, but there are no readers," regretted Manoj Tripathi, a book lover.
Similar is the condition of the Shri Guru Gobind Singh municipal library, established on March 12, 1956, at Abohar, a sub division of the Fazilka district. From 150 members it membership has come down mere 40. The library ahs huge a huge collection Urdu, English, Hindi and Punjabi books, but with the non-arrival of new periodicals and magazines, visitors stopped coming here.
The library lacks basic infrastructure, there is no arrangement for drinking water as well With no proper staff, only a fourth class employee is assigned the job of running the library. Due to lack of funds, the local Aarti Book Centre, which supplies newspapers, has not been paid the bill for Rs 25,000 for the last eight months.
"Repeated requests to various authorities to properly run this historical library have remained futile," rued a regular visitor, Krishan Lal of Dutarawali village, 20km from Abohar.
Ravinder Singh, deputy commissioner, Fazilka, expressed ignorance about the condition of libraries at Fazilka and Abohar and assured to look into the matter.