Patna University Library turns 100. Vice President Naidu to see rare collection
The over 90-year-old Wheeler Senate House is being spruced up and old bookshelves are being dusted off, as the Patna University administration is gearing up to host the centenary celebrations of its iconic academic library on August 4, where Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu is slated to be the chief guest.
During the function, Naidu will release a special centenary souvenir and the Patna University Journal which has been revived by the varsity to mark the occasion, officials said.
“We are honoured to have the vice president of the county as our chief guest for the centenary celebrations scheduled on August 4. The main function will be hosted at the historic Wheeler Senate House neighbouring the PU Library,” university vice chancellor Rash Bihari Prasad Singh told PTI.
On the same day, Naidu is also slated to attend the centenary celebration of the historic Patna High School, which completed 100 years on July 2 this year.
“He (Naidu) will first visit the rich collection of the library, which includes rare books and priceless manuscripts, located in the Central Library building. After that, he will head to the Senate House for the main function,” Singh said.
The vice president will also unveil a plaque in the library building to commemorate its centenary.
“The vice president at the main event will release a special postal cover on the library’s centenary, the centenary souvenir and the PU Journal, which has been revived. The university journal had been lying dormant for decades,” the library’s director, Rabindra Kumar, told PTI.
The Wheeler Senate House, with its impressive facade and high ceiling, is getting spruced up for the centenary event.
The Patna University established its academic library within two years of the varsity’s inception and this speaks volumes of the emphasis the institution had laid on knowledge and learning since the beginning, the vice chancellor said.
While the Patna University, the seventh oldest university in the country, was set up on October 1, 1917, its library will complete 100 years in September 2019.
Year 2017, saw huge celebrations being hosted to commemorate the centenary of the university, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the main event, as the riveting story of its creation hogged limelight, but the story of the university library and its evolution is no less fascinating.
The Patna University Library began its life in a colonial-era double-storied building with imposing columns in its facade and is located close to the iconic Senate House of the university on the campus.
The centenary celebration team has been scouring through old records related to the university and the library, and they have found out that the PU Library was established on September 24, 1919.
According to Bihar’s district gazetteer for Patna published in 1970, the library had four main collections -- General Library section; Bayley Memorial Collection section; Banaili Economic section; and Rai Bahadur Shiva Shankar Sahay’s Hindi Collection section.
Bayley collection was named after the first Lt Governor of Bihar and Orissa, Sir Charles Stuart Bayley, who served the new province from 1912-1915, after its creation in 1912.
As the library added to its valuable collection over time, which also includes rare manuscripts, including one on Laila-Majnu, magazines, journals, academic and research papers, the repository was shifted to a new, modern building adjoining it, which was inaugurated in 1958 by the then UGC Chairman C D Deshmukh.
In 1966, this rich repository, now called the PU Central Library, had 1,21,641 books, according to the gazetteer.
The establishment of the Patna University was a long-cherished dream of the people, realised on October 1, 1917 and J G Jennings became its first vice-chancellor, while the university’s governing bodies -- the Senate and the Syndicate -- came into being in 1919.
However, the Senate House was built much later in 1926, named after the then Lt Governor of the province, Sir Henry Wheeler, who also inaugurated the beautiful landmark.
Both the university library and the over 90-year-old Senate House have played host to a number of important events in the journey of the university so far, but once in 1940, Patna University actually proved instrumental in hosting of the Fourth All-India Library Conference.
The grand event, which was held from April 13-15 that year, was organised by the Indian Library Association (ILA), which was established in 1933 at the first all-India library conference at Belvedere (now National Library) in Calcutta.
Eighty-three delegates from various parts of the country, highest recorded till that period in the history of the conference, attended the event held at the University Library and the Wheeler Senate House.