These libraries have been around for 100 yrs
When Gajanan Deshmukh read about a unique meet for 100-year-old public libraries, he was determined to travel for more than 10 hours from Jamkhed in Ahmednagar district to Mumbai.
Last week, Deshmukh made that long journey to the city to represent Lokmanya Taluka Vachanalay that was started by his great grand father in 1887. More than 40 representatives from 83 public libraries of Maharashtra were felicitated by Maharashtra Seva Sangh, a cultural organisation, as part of their 75th anniversary celebrations.
"The library is very close to my heart and the next step is to computerise the library so that rare books are preserved," said Deshmukh, who retired as a school principal in 2001 and is now involved in library work.
The oldest library was in Ratnagiri, set up in 1828 and libraries such as the Dadar Sarvajanik Vachanalay - popularly known as DASAVA - and the Mumbai Marathi Grantha Sangrahalay, Dadar east were also felicitated.
"These books are invaluable for historical research because Maharashtra and India witnessed major social upheavals in 19th and 20th century," said Pratibha Gokhale, chief librarian, Mumbai University. "They have maps, letters and manuscripts written by thinkers such as Lokmanya Tilak and Babasaheb Ambedkar."
Added Nandini Hambarde, secretary, Maharashtra Seva Sangh, "The event gave representatives a chance to exchange notes on issues such as preservation of rare books and financial challenges."