Publishers, suppliers say Connemara Library has not paid them for over 6 months

Last November, Connemara Public Library procured over 6,000 books, on the suggestions of readers. Over six months later, not only have readers not seen the books, but publishers and book suppliers say they have not been paid for them

The books, ranging in subjects from science to linguistics and philosophy, are locked up in a room inside the library.

“The library gave a list of titles to be supplied last November, and we supplied them. We also took back the books they rejected. But they have not paid us and are also not permitting us to take our books back,” said a publisher who has been in the business for over a decade.

Established in 1890, the library in Egmore is a repository of centuries-old publications, and over 7 lakh books. Nearly 2,000 people visit the library every day. Being one of the four National Depository Libraries in the country, the library also receives a copy of all books, newspapers and periodicals published in India.

“We could have given the books to institutes that really need them. How can a government defer payments and not even give us a valid reason,” asked another publisher, who has sold over 250 books to the library. 

Many publishers said they have sold books worth at least Rs. 2 lakh to the library. “Generally, all libraries complete payments by March 31. We did not anticipate such a lengthy delay,” said another publisher.

“We don’t even know what state the books are in and what will happen if they ask us to take the books back. They have been asking us to wait for payments for a long time, which is not fair,” a publisher said. 

According to sources, the library has received a Central government grant of Rs. 40 lakh. Besides, it receives an annual grant of Rs. 50 lakh from the State government which is used for maintenance. Every year, the expenditure incurred in procuring new books is around Rs. 30 lakh, sources said.  

Employees at the library said the problem was more to do with a shortage of staff rather than a lack of funds. While there are 130 sanctioned posts at the library, only 50 people are currently employed.

The library has not had a librarian since January, and the shortage of personnel is affecting regular work, an employee said. “We employ many people on a daily basis, but they do not handle administrative work. This causes many delays,” a staff member said.

 Officials at the directorate of public libraries that functions under the school education department said the issue of payments was being sorted out.

“We have received Rs. 40 lakh and are waiting for another Rs. 20 lakh of the allocated funds. Once that comes, we will immediately pay the publishers,” an official said.

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