Storehouse of rarities, central-state library succumbing to govt apathy

  • Navrajdeep Singh, Hindustan Times, Patiala
  • Updated: Apr 23, 2015 00:25 IST

It's a deserted hall, considering the number rare manuscripts and books here. Moreover, most of the 250 daily visitors to the central-state library in the district are students - interested only in screening books to help them prepare for competitive examinations.

To what avail the treasure when the trove is never accessed?

Developed on the famous Rigvedic thought "let noble thoughts come to us from all sides, the library is one of the oldest in the entire state.

Opened in 1955 and named after former chief minister and Sahitya Akademi Award winner Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir, the library has more than 95,000 books including 15,000 that have archival value, besides 3,000 rare manuscripts and 100 volumes of collected works of Mahatma Gandhi.

But over the recent years, the authorities have failed to keep up with the modern times and attract and facilitate youngsters to the library. In fact the government is struggling to maintain even the staff strength.

The library has seven sanctioned posts of librarians out of which five are lying vacant. Also, of the five posts of restorers and four posts of fourth class employees, two are yet to be filled.

Moreover, the library has had not many books added to its collection of late.

The chief librarian Kahlon said with the state government having provided no new additions, it was the Raja Ram Mohan Roy Library Foundation that gave it 100 new sets under the aegis of the Union ministry of culture and affairs," he added.

Among the peripheries, there is neither drinking water facility nor a sewerage system.

"In spite of the shortage of staff, we are somehow managing to maintain activities in the library," said chief librarian GS Kahlon.

"We have already written to state government to provide adequate staff so that we can utilise valuable resources," he added.

A window to history

As per data compiled by Rupinder Singh and Prabhjot Kaur, presently posted at state education library and Amritsar district library respectively, the state archives department donated many rarities to the library. Those include 961 manuscripts in Persian, 784 in Sanskrit, 595 in Gurmukhi or Punjabi, 152 in Urdu, 126 in Hindi and 102 in Arabic.

And Kahlon said no chance has been taken with their preservation.

"One of the oldest manuscripts available in the library is century-old 'Skanda Puran', which has engravings in Sanskrit language on palm leaves," Kahlon said.

"The rare manuscripts are the assets of the libraries and the best efforts are made to preserve these manuscripts for future generations since they are of great historical importance."

Rare manuscripts

· Bhagvad Gita translation by Faizi & Raja Jai Singh Sawai, dated: 1872 AD.

· Mahabharata translated into Persian by Muhammad Sultan Thanesri, Naqieb Khan and Abdul Qadir Badayuni, dated: 1846 AD

· Asap Namah: A Persian manuscript on the various kinds of horses, their diseases and remedies.

· Persian translation of the twelve chapters of the Bhagvad Puran, dated: 1730 AD.

· An extremely rare manuscript on account of its calligraphy and ornamentation: The Holy Quran by Kashid ul Umar, dated : 1733 AD

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