Gowthami Regional Library was the seat of informal learning when it was launched in 1898. Stalwarts like Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu, Sreepada Subrahmanya Sastry, Nalam Krishna Rao, Addanki Satyanarayana Sarma and Kukunda Venkataratnam were behind the advent of the great facility.
Registered in 1920 and taken over by the government subsequently in 1979, the library, spread over 3,100 square yards, has a rich, rare and valuable collection dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.
It is house to six copper plates, palm leaf manuscripts, paper (handmade) manuscripts, some 96,242 book – 67,958 in Telugu, 18,949 in English, including an encyclopaedia of 1771, 63,000 in Hindi, 372 in Urdu and 663 in other languages.
The library also enjoyed the patronage of persons like Kanchumarti Seetaramachandra Rao, the Raja of Jaipur Sri Raja Vikrama Deva Varma (1869-1951), Chilakamarti Laksminarasimham, Bhamidipati Kameswara Rao, Kasinathuni Nageswara Rao, Kattamanchi Ramalinga Reddy and Pathuri Nagabhushanam. It had the reputation of quenching the literary thirst of people from foreign origin as well.
The institution with such a glorious past is now languishing in a state of utter neglect.
It lacks sufficient funds and basic infrastructure. “The library serves the districts of East and West Godavari and Krishna. While some regional libraries in Guntur receive a municipal cess of 10 per cent, which comes to Rs.10 crores, this library has no funds at all,” says V.S. Suryanarayana Murthy, Gazetted Librarian and in-charge of the library.
Some 800 to 1,000 people visit the library every day, which has a children's wing too. Only seven persons on permanent employment manage the library while some 20 to 25 persons look after the affairs in other such facilities.
MP Vundavalli Arun Kumar is the only public representative to have evinced a little interest in sanctioning some funds from his MPLADS for the development of the library. But, it is not sufficient, it is felt.
Gowthami Regional Library was seat of informal learning when it came into being in 1898