The government has withheld the grants at a time when the council is struggling to raise the library grants in tune with the increase in the prices of books and periodicals.

These are tough times for libraries in the State with the government withholding their annual Plan and non-Plan grants totalling Rs.15.50 crore.

The statutory grants is to be paid under provisions of the Kerala Public Libraries (Kerala Grandhasala Sanghom) Act, 1989, in four instalments spread over April, July, October, and January every financial year. However, the government has not released even a single instalment so far this year and this has resulted in the libraries across the State being denied their annual grants and the librarians their allowances.

The State Library Council had received Rs.13.50 crore as grants during 2011-’12 against its actual expenditure of Rs.13.59 crore towards annual grants to libraries and librarians’ allowances.

The Rs.13.50-crore allocation was against the council’s annual budget of Rs.36.19 crore, which included provisions for employees’ salaries and establishment expenditure, library buildings and maintenance grants and development activities undertaken directly by the council.

The government has budgeted Rs.15.50 crore as the allocation for the council this year against its budgeted amount of Rs.16.70 crore for paying grants and allowances to libraries alone and its total annual budget outlay of Rs.41.07 crore for 2012-‘13.

Under Section 30 of the Act, the government has to ‘‘make every year a grant to the State Library Council of a sum which shall not be more than one per cent of the amount allotted for education in the State budget for the year, taking into account the programmes and projects of the State Library Council for that year.’’

The government has withheld the grants at a time when the council is struggling to raise the library grants in tune with the increase in the prices of books and periodicals.

All that an A grade library now gets as grant a year is Rs.20,000, hardly enough to meet the cost of a few periodicals and some books. Librarians of A, B, and C grade libraries get only a monthly allowance of Rs.1,200 and those in D, E, and F grade libraries Rs.950.

According to sources in government, the grant release is being delayed on account of lack of clarity about and agreement with appointments made by the council during LDF rule.

But, the government’s failure to seek and secure some clarity in the matter even midway through the third quarter of its second year in office has left the already ailing libraries gasping for breath.