Delhi

Efforts to breathe life into Odisha’s public libraries

At a time when there is growing perception about public libraries transforming from being centre of knowledge dissemination into warehouse of books, academicians, booklovers and volunteers have initiated efforts to breathe life into the Odisha’s culture of reading.

The Odisha Society of the Americas (OSA), Bakul Foundation, which runs library for children in Bhubaneswar, and Prafulla Pathagara, a rural library in Jagatsinghpur that continue to thrive despite students moving away from reading habit, here has resolved to convince both government and private organisations not to let public libraries fade away from collective memory.

“We have to find different ways to ensure public libraries staying relevant. A public library improves the quality of life in a community. Sam Pitroda-chaired National Knowledge Commission had emphasised on access to knowledge. Unless we keep a platform ready for people from all strata of society, we cannot be successful in creating knowledge society,” said Sujit Mohapatra, founder of Bakul Foundation.

Participating in a discussion titled ‘Public Libraries in Odisha: Vision 2020’, academicians said that Odisha can reap the benefits of a knowledge economy if it is transformed into a knowledge-based society with equitable access to knowledge.

“We need vibrant public libraries across Odisha with community participation that makes them relevant and dynamic, and helps break the digital divide by being Information Communication Technology enabled,” Mr. Mohapatra said.

At present, there are 34 public libraries managed by State government. Harekrushna Mahatab State Library, Bhubaneswar, is the biggest public library which boasts of 1.44 lakh books and 600 to 700 footfall daily. There are many privately-managed public libraries in different districts. But they are facing threat to their existence when youths are depending on google, e-books and smart phones.

“We have to start making public libraries vibrant by making volunteering efforts. Book lovers and intellectuals in the State will have to be taken along for creating more public libraries having ICT application,” said OSA president Sushant Satpathy.

Academicians emphasised that library management committees should be formed so that community should own public libraries and encourage students to take advantage of the knowledge centre.

Best practices being followed in urban public library Bakul Library in Bhubaneswar and Gandhi Pathagara, Bargarh, rural libraries of Prafulla Pathagara in Jagatsinghpur and Vivek Library in Rajsunakhela, and School Libraries in Ganjam were shared in the discussion.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 12:43:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/efforts-to-breathe-life-into-odishas-public-libraries/article8030194.ece

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