Bengal’s Renaissance-period libraries banking on competitive exam books for survival

UPDATED ON APR 02, 2017 01:04 PM IST 11 Photos
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Konnagar Public Library was established on April 01, 1858 at Konnagar, Hoogly Distin West Bengal. Now , layers of dust have covered bound volumes of Bengal’s important 19th and 20th-century books and periodicals on the first floor room that is hardly opened. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

Konnagar Public Library was established on April 01, 1858 at Konnagar, Hoogly Distin West Bengal. Now , layers of dust have covered bound volumes of Bengal’s important 19th and 20th-century books and periodicals on the first floor room that is hardly opened. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

UPDATED ON APR 02, 2017 01:04 PM IST
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Serampore Public Library & Mutual Improvement Association was established on 1871 at Serampore, Hoogly Dist. West Bengal. This library with other district library are facing acute shortage (more than 60% post vacant) of librarians. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

Serampore Public Library & Mutual Improvement Association was established on 1871 at Serampore, Hoogly Dist. West Bengal. This library with other district library are facing acute shortage (more than 60% post vacant) of librarians. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

UPDATED ON APR 02, 2017 01:04 PM IST
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Ironically, books on competitive exams are keeping alive the trickle of readers to these once-grand repositories of knowledge. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

Ironically, books on competitive exams are keeping alive the trickle of readers to these once-grand repositories of knowledge. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

UPDATED ON APR 02, 2017 01:04 PM IST
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The scene is no different in Konnagar and Mahesh Public library, both about 150 years old and trying to keep their head above water by attracting students aspiring to crack competitive exams for jobs. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

The scene is no different in Konnagar and Mahesh Public library, both about 150 years old and trying to keep their head above water by attracting students aspiring to crack competitive exams for jobs. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

UPDATED ON APR 02, 2017 01:04 PM IST
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The scene is no different in Konnagar and Mahesh Public library, both about 150 years old and trying to keep their head above water by attracting students aspiring to crack competitive exams for jobs. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

The scene is no different in Konnagar and Mahesh Public library, both about 150 years old and trying to keep their head above water by attracting students aspiring to crack competitive exams for jobs. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

UPDATED ON APR 02, 2017 01:04 PM IST
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These are the very institutions that acted as repositories of knowledge and nurtured the Bengal renaissance that is regarded to have flourished between Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833) and Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

These are the very institutions that acted as repositories of knowledge and nurtured the Bengal renaissance that is regarded to have flourished between Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833) and Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

UPDATED ON APR 02, 2017 01:04 PM IST
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The books and the public library movement were integral to Bengal Renaissance. It picked up pace in the 1850s in the immediate aftermath of the enactment of the Public Library Act, 1851, in the UK, and a series of public libraries and free reading rooms came up in the first decade itself. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

The books and the public library movement were integral to Bengal Renaissance. It picked up pace in the 1850s in the immediate aftermath of the enactment of the Public Library Act, 1851, in the UK, and a series of public libraries and free reading rooms came up in the first decade itself. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

UPDATED ON APR 02, 2017 01:04 PM IST
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According to government records, there are more than 3,000 vacancies among the 5,520 sanctioned posts for about 2,000 functional public libraries. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

According to government records, there are more than 3,000 vacancies among the 5,520 sanctioned posts for about 2,000 functional public libraries. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

UPDATED ON APR 02, 2017 01:04 PM IST
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Among the libraries founded in Bengal in the 1850s are Rishi Rajnayaran Basu Smriti Pathagar in Midnapore (1851), founded byRajnayaran Basu, a prominent face of the Renaissance, and Uttarpara Jaykrishna Public Library (1859), founded by Jaykrishna Mukherjee, another celebrated personality. Other libraries include Hooghly Public Library (1854), Krishnanagar Public Library (1856) and Konnagar Public Library (1858). (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

Among the libraries founded in Bengal in the 1850s are Rishi Rajnayaran Basu Smriti Pathagar in Midnapore (1851), founded byRajnayaran Basu, a prominent face of the Renaissance, and Uttarpara Jaykrishna Public Library (1859), founded by Jaykrishna Mukherjee, another celebrated personality. Other libraries include Hooghly Public Library (1854), Krishnanagar Public Library (1856) and Konnagar Public Library (1858). (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

UPDATED ON APR 02, 2017 01:04 PM IST
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The Midnapore library has two staff members instead of four and at least five thousand books from its collections, including rare and old ones, have been damaged due to lack of maintenance. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

The Midnapore library has two staff members instead of four and at least five thousand books from its collections, including rare and old ones, have been damaged due to lack of maintenance. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

UPDATED ON APR 02, 2017 01:04 PM IST
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Konnagar Public Library and the one in Krishnagar are in similar state. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

Konnagar Public Library and the one in Krishnagar are in similar state. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

UPDATED ON APR 02, 2017 01:04 PM IST
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