Swathi. V

No books added to racks despite availability of funds

Ban on recruitment hits the library and its 86 branches in city

Funds adequate but lack of initiative to revive the library

HYDERABAD: Lack of initiative and answerability from authorities is sending the 47-year old City Central Library into gradual oblivion.

Set up in 1960 by Andhra Pradesh Public Libraries Act with a mission of making knowledge available to all, the library expanded considerably during the regime of former Chief Minister N. T. Rama Rao, with 40 branches coming up between 1983 and 1987 alone.

Official apathy

However, the institution is now finding it hard to live up to the ideal of its establishment due to official apathy and lack of political will.

With 100 vacancies among the 280 posts across the twin cities, the library is grossly under staffed even to carry out its routine work, says P. Chandraiah, a librarian. The ban on recruitments has barred new staff from entering any of its 86 branches in the city.

“The library itself is shorter by 20 hands,” he says. Most of the branches lack basic furniture and lighting, said another official.

Staff members recall that about 20 years ago, the library was the hub of information dissemination, with long queues of students during working days and heavy rush of children during summer vacation.

“There was a demand from parents to keep the library open even after the stipulated timings. We conducted cultural activities for kids during vacation,” they remember fondly.

Sources say that there has not been any effort towards procurement of books for the past two years even after sanction of Rs.1 crore for this purpose. Even Harry Potter mania did not arouse the authorities into buying a copy for each library.

A reason quoted for the apathy is the politically nominated posting of the Chairman. A literary person at the helm of the affairs instead would go a long way in improving the library, they say.

Shortage of funds, however, is not a problem.

“Eight paisa from each rupee of property tax collected by GHMC is earmarked as library cess. The library has huge funds. What is lacking is the interest and willingness from authorities,” a library official commented.

In spite of their need, there is no demand from readers either, because whatever is provided by the government is viewed as charity unmindful of the heavy taxes imposed, he lamented.