Headless for past 3 years, Patna’s iconic library flounders
The digitisation of the Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library manuscripts and publication of books by it has remained at a standstill for past almost three years, in the absence of a full time director.
Its website describes this library as “a unique repository of about 21,000 Oriental manuscripts and 2.5 lakh printed books”.
Though founded earlier, it was opened for public about 125 years ago, in October 1891 by an eminent Bihari, Khan Bahadur Khuda Bakhsh, with 4,000 manuscripts, of which he inherited 1,400 from his father Maulvi Mohammed Bakhsh.
Acknowledging the immense historical and intellectual value of its rich and valued collection, the central government declared the library an Institution of national Importance by an act of Parliament in 1969.
Located close to the banks of the Ganga, in Patna, the Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library (KBOPL), is now fully funded by the ministry of culture (government of India).
This autonomous institution is being governed by a board with the Governor of Bihar as its ex-officio chairman and the responsibility of day-to-day management of library affairs is entrusted to one holding the post of its director..
Yet, despite all these attributes that testify to its unique standing among libraries of the country, the KBOPL has been without a permanent director to oversee its functioning, for the past three years.
Now, a fresh communication from the union ministry of culture suggests that the library’s wait for a permanent director may stretch a bit longer.
In a letter sent to the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat (Bihar Chapter), the ministry of culture has informed the organisation that a proposal for appointing a full fledged director of KBOPL is pending with the department of personnel and Training (ministry of personnel), for ACC (appointments committee of the cabinet) approval.
The letter, dated March 22, came in response to a majlis query from the PMO (Prime Minister’s office) as to when a permanent director will be appointed for the KBOPL.
“The ministry of culture had recommended a name for this post in August 2014 and forwarded it to the ACC for approval. But the post remained vacant”, said majlis general secretary Anwarul Hoda.
The library has been under the charge of the Patna Commissioner, after the retirement of the previous director. “The divisional commissioner has been loaded with lots of responsibilities and can hardly be expected to spare time for the library’s day-to-day activities”,Hoda said.
He claimed the library was suffering badly as there had been no publication of books, digitization of manuscripts, purchase of books, magazines and newspapers and other research materials, since June 2014..
“Though the library has been receiving nearly Rs 2.5 crore for development works every year, the fund has been lapsing because of non-utilization. This year’s allocation, too, is set to lapse on March 31,” Hoda said.
KBOPL sources said apart from the post of director, nearly a dozen other posts at the library had been vacant for the past nearly three years.