Thursday, February 27, 2014

Major Public Libraries of Mumbai P- 13. Public Libraries * By :C P Vashishth

इस ब्लॉग्स को सृजन करने में आप सभी से सादर सुझाव आमंत्रित हैं , कृपया अपने सुझाव और प्रविष्टियाँ प्रेषित करे , इसका संपूर्ण कार्य क्षेत्र विश्व ज्ञान समुदाय हैं , जो सभी प्रतियोगियों के कॅरिअर निर्माण महत्त्वपूर्ण योगदान देगा ,आप अपने सुझाव इस मेल पत्ते पर भेज सकते हैं -

Major Public Libraries of Mumbai

P- 13. Public Libraries *

By :C P Vashishth


  • To study the history of the libraries with regard to social condition and need for the establishment
  • To know the growth and development
  • To find out the present position
  • To elaborate the salient features
  • To discuss Special features

1.1.1 Literary Society of Bombay Established

The first step in the library movement was taken in 1804 with the foundation of the Literary Society. On 26th November 1804, 17 Europeans of Bombay met at the Government House, Pare, and formed themselves into the ‘Literacy Society of Bombay’ for the purpose of ‘prompting useful knowledge, particularly connected withIndia’. Sir James Mackintosh was chosen to be its first President and William Erskine as the Secretary of the Society.

1.1.2 The Foundation of the Library

On 31st December 1804, the Governor in Council at Bombay Mr. Jonathan Duncan presented the Society with two copies of “Hunter’s Essay on the diseases, or Lascars’ as a contribution towards the formation of a library of the Literary Society of Bombay and thus the idea of establishment of a library of the Literary Society of Bombay got accelerated

1.1.3 Purchase of Medical and Literary Library

However, the purchasing activity of the library was undertaken at its fourth meeting held on 25th February 1805 with a proposal to purchase the Medical and Literary Library of Bombay at the cost of Rs. 6565-3-2. Medical and Literary library had been started in 1789 by Dr. Scott of medical profession. It was in a bad condition in 1805 owing to lack of supervision and non-collection of subscription from members with the result that it owed the large amount of over Rs. 6500 to Scott besides interest on this amount.

The Society in taking over this library, appointed a Committee of three of its members including the Secretary and authorized this Committee ‘to call in all the books and to shut up the library for such time as may seem to them necessary’ with a view to taking stock of the number of books, and the expenses necessary for discharging the encumbrances now affecting the library. The Report of the Committee submitted on 27 May 1805 showed that only a few books were missing, according to the last printed catalogue and recommended opening of the library as soon as possible.

1.1.4 Library Committee

A Library Committee was appointed to take decisions on library matters such as selection and purchase of books, periodicals etc. and to give instructions to the staff members. By 24 November, 1806, an amount of Rs. 6565-3-2 was paid to Dr. Scott owner of Medical and Literary Library. One clerk and a sepoy were appointed and the working of the library was started thereafter.

Sir James Mackintosh anticipated these requirements and by a sanctioned lottery, raised an amount of Rs. 16,000 for having a building for the Society and its library in 1810. But these funds were not adequate to meet the requirements. In the meantime, a proposal was under consideration to build a Town Hall which could serve as a place for meeting all people and for arranging various functions. Sir James Mackintosh therefore approached the Government and pleaded for allotting apartments in the Town Hall to the Literary Society for its library and for holding their meetings with Rs. 10,000 as the Society’s contribution. Two rooms in the Town Hill were allotted to the Literary Society of Bombay in 1830 and the Society’s office and the library moved to the new building on 26th November 1830. By securing these rooms, the society could save an amount of more than Rs. 1,320 each year spent on rented rooms for the Society and its library.

In1827 the name of the Society was changed. In that year Sir John Malcolm, the President, suggested in the course of his first address to the Society, that the Literary Society of Bombay should join hands for the pursuit of knowledge with the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland which had been started in London in 1823. The suggestion was taken up and on the motion of Vans Kennedy, it was resolved on 5th December 1827 that a Communication should be opened with the London Society soliciting the formation of a connection with that body and a Committee of 11 persons including 3 Vice-Presidents, was appointed. The Committee reported on 27 the Feb. 1828 that the Union of the two societies shall be entirely of a literary nature, that the society shall act as an independent body and further that it shall change its present name into that of Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

These proposals were accepted by the Literary Society of Bombay on 27th February 1828 and the union took place. But it was not till 27th January 1830 that the new name appeared in the minutes of the Literary Society of Bombay.

1.1.5 Growth of The Library: 1805-1813   Membership
All the members of the Literary Society of Bombay were eligible to make use of the library. Admission of members was governed by the following rule:
“Persons wishing to become members shall be proposed by one member and seconded by another, at one meeting of the Society and balloted for at the next meeting.

1.1.6 Merger of other libraries

After renaming as Royal Asiatic Society, 3,000 valuable books of the following libraries were amalgamated with their library:
  1. Agri-Horticultural Society                    1830
  2. Geographical Society                             1830
  3. Medical-Physical Society                     1865
  4. Library and Scientific Society             1848

1.1.7 Fyzee Committee Recommendations

In order to provide a state-wide systematic library service, the Bombay Government appointed a Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr AAA Fyzee 1939-40. After considering all aspects, this Committee recommended for creation of a State Central Library; 3 Divisional Libraries; 15 District  Libraries; 467 Taluka Libraries, 100 Municipal Libraries; and 20,000 Village Libraries. It also recommended for establishment of these libraries in 6 stages. On accepting the recommendations of this Committee, the new Congress government under the Chief Ministership of Mr B G Kher declared the Asiatic Society Library as State Central Library.

1.1.8 Collection

Books received under the Press and Registration of Books Act (1867) are sent to this library. Further, after passing of the Delivery of Books and Newspapers Act (1954) books and periodicals in all Indian languages are received and shall have to be stored in the library. In the year 1965-66 UNESCO recognized this library as one of its Depository Centres.

The collection became unmanageable because of the shortage of space. Justice M C Chagla and Gajendragadkar tried to have extension to the library. Rs. ten lakhs each was contributed by Maharashtra Government; Brihan Mumbai Corporation; and Sardar Patel Samarak Samiti. Rs. 30 lakhs were collected by way of donation from the public. Due to some technical reasons, construction of extension to the existing structure was deferred. Ray Committee Recommendations

The Ray Committee appointed for resolving the issue of space, ownership of the collection, etc. recommended to the state Government to “immediately accept the offer of the University of Bombay of a 20.2 acre piece of land on their new Kalina Campus and undertake as early as possible to raise a suitable building for the present, with adequate floor-space for the accommodation of a well-provided State Central Library and for the headquarters of the State Directorate of Libraries.” Unfortunately the matter could not go much further. Present Position and Expected Role of SCL

At present the SCL was not performing all expected functions. As a recognized State Central Library, it only performs the work of collecting books received under Copyright Act. It does not provide any leadership to the public libraries in the State. The work of bibliography, union catalogue, centralized cataloguing and classification was far away from the SCL. Because of its status as a recognized library, it could not work effectively as SCL in spite of additional grants-in-aid from the State Government and Central Government. 

Today the Director of Library sitting in the same Town Hall building could not ask for cooperation from this Library. He could not interfere in the activities of this Library for its improvement. This situation calls for a drastic action and radical changes in the whole set up of SCL; which should assume the expected role of an apex body. Now no time and efforts should be left to reorganize the SCL on modern lines and with modern amenities. While re-organizing the SCL its role as a reference and research library of the State and as national depository of books and newspapers should also be kept in view. All the functions of the SCL should be meaningful and at scale fitting to its position in the library system.

Act does not stipulate to whom the authority of the SCL should be vested. However, present provisions in the Act, powers are vested with the Director as a head of department of public libraries in the State. After the possession of the SCL, the post of State Librarian was created of late under State Library Services.

1.2.1 Foundation

This library was established in 1898 in Dadar area of Mumbai. End of 19th century can be considered as the beginning of the new India. More and more people started taking English education. The youth has the vigour and vitality to do ‘some thing’ positive.

The Mumbai Marathi Grantha Sangrahalaya had its beginning in a small room in Thakurdas Vibhag (called in those days as Palva Road) with a box containing 300 books. The library was established on the Nariyal Poomima day (of Saka 1820) ie., 1st August 1898.

Messers Mukund Gurjar, Sridhar Modak, Vinayak Joshi Shankar Shejwalkar, Vithal Tillu, Narahar Joshi, Anant Pitkar, Narayan Gadre, Narayan Wakre, Ganesh Page, and Ambadas Puntambekar were responsible in establishing the library. They were addressed in those days as ‘Ekadash Rudra’ (eleven founders).

Mr. Puntambekar was a dynamic person with a lot of enthusiasm for social service. He started ‘Bharat Sewak Samooh’ in 1895 and this organization were responsible in giving shape to this library.

In fact, the first ‘Marathi Granthasangrahalay’ was established in Mumbai in 1893. It started with the outbreak of plague and died with it.

The foundation meeting of the Mumbai Marathi Grantha Sangrahalaya was held on10 July 1898 at Brahman Sabha’s Sabhagriha. Finally, the library came into being on 1st August 1898 with Vinayak K. Oak as President. The library could muster the support of leaders like Mahadeo Govind Ranade.

1.2.2 Catalogue

A catalogue of the collection of the library was prepared in the year 1926 by M N Wame soon after the Silver Jubilee celebration of the library observed in 1824.

1.2.3 Building

The first floor of free library building was constructed in 1932. With this, the financial position of the library deteriorated. Mr Puntambekar holding the reins of the library right from the beginning retired in 1934. Messers V L Pendse, V G Pathak, V V Bhat, V D Gokhale, R S Joglekar and others were elected to look after the affairs of the library. The library regained its glory under the leadership of eminent personalities like Mr M B Bhatwdekar, V B Gagendragadkar and others.

During the years 1941 to 1960, the library got metamorphosed. In 1941, the Dadar branch of the Library was established. Thereafter branches were established continuously at different parts of the city. By 1966, there were 10 branches of this library in existence. The second and third floors of the building were constructed and thus enough space was created for the library.

The library celebrated its Golden Jubilee in the year 1949 in a befitting manner. As a part of the celebration, Parel, Kurla and Colaba branches were established. ‘Itihas Samsodhan Mandal’, ‘Kala Mandal’ were established.

In 1958, during the Diamond Jubilee year Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India visited the library and laid the foundation stone for the present imposing building.

In 1960 to help the children to develop their knowledge, “Sri Sane Guruji Balvikas Mandir” was established.

1.2.4 Branch Libraries

Between 1960-61 branches of the library were started at Kalachowky, Bandra and Chembur. A get-together of the Maharashtrians was called in 1961 wherein the ways and means for the all-round development of the Maharashtrians were discussed. As a result of this conference “Maharashtra Prabhodan Sakha” was established.

‘Ravindra Bharati Sakha’ was established to cater to the needs of linguistic minorities in Mumbai ultimately to promote national integration.

1.2.5 Other Activities

The other activities of the library include ‘Saradostav’ lectures, Gajendragadkar Vyakhyanmala, Rangabhoomi Vyakhyanmala, etc.

The library has its own publication section. Right from the beginning the library provided shelter to Marathi Granthalaya Sangh and Maharashtra Rajya Granthalaya Sangh as well as library workers.

Messers S N Janwekar, B V Bapat, V S Rout, M B Bhatwadekar, A B Gajendragadkar, A N Balerao, V L Pendse contributed a great deal apart from those mentioned earlier. During 1950s, Mr S K Patil did laudable job as President. He with the support of Messers annasaheb Kane, Tonte, Modak provided new dimentison to the functioning of the library. Later on Messers V K Bhide, N D Pathak, V G Patankar, R K Pathak, G R Paranjape, Sudhakar Torne, Pandurangarao Sirodkar, Mrs. Premlata Babre and Mrs. Manjula Bhide led forward the library.

1.2.6 Sections

Right from the beginning, the library has two sections, namely ‘Sangrahalay’ and ‘Wachanalay’. Sangrahalay has very valuable and unique collection of Marathi books which are not lent-out. Messers Rajwade, Ketkar, Deshpande, Potdar, Date and others contributed a great deal to this section. The Marathi Sansodhan Mandal at this library was recognized by the Mumbai Vidyapeeth as a research centre.

In addition to Reference Section, there are Wachanalay, Sansodhan Mandal, Sangrahalay, Publication Section, Sales Counter, Ravindra Bharati Maharashtra Prabodhan Sakha. There is an air-conditioned auditorium which can accommodate around 1,000.

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