Thursday, November 6, 2014

35. Pioneers of library movement

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 -

35.  Pioneers of library movement

P- 13. Public Libraries *

By :C P Vashishth,Paper Coordinator


This is only a select profile of Library Pioneers from Bengal. There are many others who could rightfully be included in this module, but the limitation of space does not permit us to include them. Interested readers are advised to look into the publications of Bengal Library Association to have inclusive picture of Library pioneers from West Bengal and adjoining areas.

1. Rabindranath Thakur (1861-1941)1

Alternate Text
Renowned Bengali poet and Nobel laureate, Rabindranath was elected the first president of All-Bengal Library Association (later renamed as Bengal Library Association) in 1925. Two of his writings ‘Library’ and ‘Librerir mukhya kartabya’(Main duties of a library) very much inspired the workers and organizers of library movement. Visvabharati Library at Shantiniketan and ‘Chalantika’, the mobile library in the adjacent rural area were developed on his inspiration and advice.     

2. K. M. Asadullah

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Khalifa Muhammed Asadullah was born on 6th August, 1890 in Lahore (now in Pakistan). He was educated at Islamia School  and graduated in 1913 from the Foreman Christian College, Lahore. He was appointed as the first graduate Librarian of the Government College Lahore on 16th November, 1913 on a pay of Rs. 50 per month. 

In 1915 Asa Don Dickinson, a famous library expert from Pennsylvania University came to Lahore on being invited by the Panjab University.  Appearance of Dickinson on the  library scene acted as a great impetus to Asadullah’s desire to become a librarian in those days when librarianship in this country was rated as a very low professional occupation with little prospects, particularly for a young ambitious graduate with excellent qualities of head and heart that Asadullah possessed.

Dickinson, one of the early library experts from America was a person of great energy and vision. His assignment was to organize the reputed Panjab University Library Lahore, which was of a modest size at that time. He took up his work with the Panjab University with great enthusiasm and foresight. Simultaneously he mooted a proposal to train young librarians in modern methods of librarianship not only with a view to carry forward and sustaining the scientific management of the Panjab University Library that he initiated, but also to instituting a permanent programme of educating and training Indian librarians in modern methods of library work. He wrote a  book entitled Primer of Librarianship for the benefit of the young enthusiastic students he attracted around him, and inspired these young men with pioneering zeal and love for the hitherto unrecognized profession of modern librarianship in this country. This event is a major event in the history of the modern Library Movement in India and K.M. Asadullah was, undoubtedly, its finest product.

Asadullah put his training to good account and soon his reputation as an excellent library organizer became known far and wide in India. In 1919 the M.A.O. College (which soon after developed into the Aligarh Muslim University in 1921) requisitioned his services to organize its growing Library. He performed this work with commendable efficiency and speed on the lines of his illustrious teacher, Asa Don Dickinson.

In 1921 when the Government of India wanted an expert librarian to reorganize the Imperial Secretariat Library at Delhi (with a summer camp office at Shimla), in an all-India selection the choice fell on K.M. Asadullah.  As Librarian of the Imperial Secretariat Library he improved upon his own past records of unrivaled efficiency and organizing ability. When the post of the Librarian of the Imperial Library at Calcutta, the highest post of a librarian that librarianship in India can offer till today, fell vacant in 1929, the choice again fell on K.M. Asadullah. As usual he took up this appointment with great enthusiasm and served with distinction in this post till the partition of India in August 1947, whereupon he opted for Pakistan and after attending to certain work (including library interest) entrusted to him by the new Government of Pakistan left India for Pakistan early in 1948.

Asadulla`s departure from the Indian library scene in which he acted for over thirty years as the strongest stabilizing force, in a very real sense, marked the end of an era in the Library Movement in this sub-continent. He was a man of strong convictions and deep attachment. His involvement in the work of the Imperial Library Calcutta and in the affairs of the Indian Library Association was too deep for any expression.

The inspiration and guidance that K.M.Asadullah got from Asa Don Dickinson developed three distinct major traits in him. These found expression in the three different spheres of professional activities that he performed with great devotion and distinction: (1) his administrative acumen that found its full play in his stewardship of the premier library in the country which is now known as the National Library of India, (2) his ability to inspire and train selected young-men in library work that admirably manifested itself in the excellent course of library education that he conducted from 1935 to 1944 at the Imperial Library Calcutta, and (3) his great organizing ability that found expression in his work as organizer of All-India Library conferences and as Founder-Secretary of the Indian Library Association since 1933.

K.M.Asadullah received many honours for his devoted services of considerable merit. In 1929, he appeared in examination conducted by the Library Association of Great Britain and was soon after admitted to the Fellowship of the Library Association (F.L.A.). In 1935 he was awarded the title of Khan Bahadur by the Government of the day. He held the highest post of a National Librarian in this country and conducted himself always with dignity and decorum appropriate to his position. He won the heart and admiration of many librarians and men of learning and letters. Late Ratanchand Manchanda, Librarian, Hailey College, Lahore, wrote about him after attending the First All-India Library Conference held at Calcutta in September 1933 as follows: “The last but not the least impression I have brought back from the Conference is my association with that enthusiast for the spread of the Library Movement in India, Mr. Asadullah, Librarian, Imperial Library, Calcutta. The success of the Conference was due to his perseverance and hard work spread over so many months. Even if I suppose for a movement that I have gained nothing else at the Conference, my coming into touch with a sincere and devoted personality like Mr. Asadullah was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

3. Kumar Munindra Deb Rai Mahasaya

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Kumar Munindra Deb Rai was born in 1873 in a rich, zamindar family reputed for its munificence and progressive outlook and better known as the Basberia Raj family in the township of Bansberia in the district of Hoogly in Bengal (now West Bengal). The family residence is an imposing mansion looking like a palace surrounded by a well-laid masonry culvert fed by the water of the Ganges flowing close by. Within the compound of the mansion  is the famous Hanseswari temple and another Bengal-style temple, as typified by the Mahabalipuram Ratha associated with Draupadi, stand as a place of pilgrimage adding to the glory of the Raj family that maintains them.                                                  
Being the beneficiary of a very good upbringing and education the young Munindra Deb got interested in cultural and social service activities. He soon became acquainted with the Library Movement initiated by the Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad-III of Baroda state.  This fired his imagination and began drawing him closer and closer to the Library Movement till he got fully absorbed in it. Since the very beginning of the second quarter of the 20th century when he founded the Hoogly District Library Association (1925) and served as its President till his death in 1945. He lived a life fully possessed with the thoughts of library development in India.
Munindra Deb Rai established an excellent public library in his home town with his family resources and began propagating the gospel of the Library Movement all around. As a Member of the Bengal Legislative Council, he introduced a Library Bill in the Council in 1932.
This was the first Library Bill ever brought before a Legislature in India. The same year he moved a cut motion in the Council to press for allocation of public fund for training of librarians. It was obvious that under the then prevailing conditions he had little chance of success. But that did not deter him to press forward to register popular support, though the authorities, for their own reasons, were apathetic to the Library Movement which became a suspect like any other progressive mass movement in  India. The sincerity and substance of Kumar Munindra Deb Rai Mahasaya’s purpose and efforts was evident from the hollowness of the cryptic reply that the then Education Secretary, Mr A.R. Wilkinson, gave in the Council with regard to his cut motion, referred to above, “I gather that he (Kumar Munindra Deb Rai Mahasaya) also wants Government to spend money on opening classes for the training of librarians. So far as I am aware, there is very little demand from the public for such classes, but the Imperial Library already does train librarians; and a certain amount of training is given in the training colleges for secondary school teachers. This, I am afraid, does not satisfy the requirements of Rai Mahasaya, but it is not a matter in which he can expect Government to anticipate the demand. One cannot help admiring Rai Mahasaya’s enthusiasm for his subject and the persistence with which he tries to instill it into others.” (Modern Librarian, Oct., 1932, p. 47).
Rai Mahasaya was a genuine crusader and, as such, he would not let go things because somebody in authority might scotch his ideas. Getting the Library Bill passed against Government opposition was beyond his reach in those days, but to initiate a course of library training, for which there was a real demand, though the official version indicated otherwise, could be tried by an enthusiast and resourceful man like him. Soon after, in June, 1933 he organized at his own expense the first library training class under the auspices of the Hoogly District Library Association at Bansberia Public Library. For this work he enlisted the support of no less an authority than Mr. K. M. Asadullah, Librarian, Imperial Library Calcutta, who volunteered his services as Hony. Supervisor of the Training Course. He also availed of the expert services of Mr. P. C. Bose, then a promising young graduate librarian (later Librarian and in-charge, Department of Library Science, Calcutta University) who had just completed his library training at Lahore and Baroda. This training course served as the precursor of the training course opened later under Rai Mahasaya’s guidance by the Bengal Library Association. The latter course still continues as one of the best Certificate Courses in Librarianship conducted by our Library Associations in various States today.

The All-Bengal Library Association came into being in December, 1925 with poet Rabibdra Nath Tagore as President, Kumar Munindra Deb Rai Mahasaya as one of the Vice-Presidents and Susil Kumar Ghosh as Secretary. Within a few years it changed its name to ‘Bengiya Granthalaya Parisad’ and soon slipped into a state of inactivity. Kumar Munindra Deb Rai Mahasaya revived the Association and rechristening it as ‘Bengal Library Association’ in 1933 and ever since till his death in 1945 (with a small break  of about 2 years) he remained its President and prime motivating force. His transparent and pervasive sincerity, integrity and dedication besides enlisting the support of the eminent educationists and elites of Bengal soon attracted young enthusiastic and devoted co-workers like T. C. Dutta, S. K. Ghosh, Nihar Ranjan Ray, P. C. Bose, B. N. Banerjee and others. Within a brief period he could count among his young comrades quite a few qualified librarians who obtained highest training in librarianship in the U.K. and India. He began writing about library topics in periodicals. The Bengal Library Association issued two books in Bengali written by him, on ‘Libraries’ and `Libraries in India and Abroad’. His interest in the Indian Library Movement gradually developed so much so that he whole-heartedly accepted promotion of the Movement as his life’s mission.

Soon Kumar Munindra Deb became known all over the country for his devoted services to the cause of the Library Movement. The All-India Public Libraries Association at Bezwada elected him as a member on the Editorial Board of the Indian Library Journal. He went to Madras to participate in the proceedings of the All-India Public Library Conference held there in 1927. He invited the next session of the Conference and organized it at Calcutta in 1928. Soon he developed lively contact with all key library personnel and promoters of the Library Movement in different parts of the country.

Mr. Khalifa Mohammed Asadullah, Librarian of Imperioal Library, Calcutta became his close local friend and guide soon after he entered this field of work of love. He and Mr. Asadullah were the principal organizers of the First All-India Library Conference held in Calcutta in September 1933. It was a very representative and successful Conference as a result of which the Indian Library Association was born. Kumar Munindra Deb Rai Mahasaya was elected as one of the Vice-President of this national Library Association while K.M. Asadullah was elected as the Secretary. In 1934 Rai Mahashay was invited by the All-India Public Library Association, Bezwada, to preside over its Conference at Madras. His presidential address and his performance on this occasion conclusively proved that he was a person of outstanding wisdom and ability among leaders of all-India standing in library field.

He attended the Second All-India Library Conference held at Lucknow in April, 1935. Soon after this he proceeded abroad on the invitation to represent Indian Library Association and All-India Public Library Association (Bezwada) at the Second International Congress of Libraries and Bibliography in Spain during 19 to 31 May, 1935. According to reports “The only Indian representative Kumar Munindra Deb Rai Mahasaya M.L.C. was accorded a cordial welcome on the opening day and he was the first speaker to speak on the Library Movement in India which received high encomium from different quarters. The National Bibliotheca of Paris and Rome visited by the Kumar accorded him cordial reception. The Pope also gave him a special audience.” (Modern Librarian, July 1935, p. 152.). Rai Mahasaya toured extensively other European countries to observe and study the library systems operating there. He gave an excellent account of himself abroad and on his return and fully devoted himself to serve the cause of the Library Movement in India with renewed vigour and dedication. 

3. Kumar Munindra Deb Rai Mahasaya continue

The Bihar Library Association, constituted in 1936, convened the first Bihar Library Conference at Gaya in 1937. Rai Mahasaya presided over this Conference and advised the Association on their future programmes including a scheme of library development in the province that was under preparation at that time. Advantage of his mature counsel, selfless service and munificence in the cause of the Library Movement used to be availed of by promoters of the Library Movement all over the country.

In 1938 at an advanced age of 64 years Rai Mahasaya decided to visit Europe for the second time to study the library system in countries there once again. This time he spent about six months in England, Ireland and countries in the Continent.Birmingham Gazette of 5th November, 1938 noticed his visit as follows: “All the way from India to study library methods in this country, has come Kumar Munindra Deb Rai Mahasaya, Member of one of the most ancient families of Bengal enlightened 64 years old Mayor of Bansberia…. First he had been to the Library Conference where he had given a lecture. He had gone on to Cambridge and Oxford where he had been shown over the libraries and admired them.”

In 1944 Rai Mahasaya was in failing health. But on the 25th December that year he presented himself at Burdwan to preside over the Fourth Bengal Library Conference there in spite of the advice of his physicians to the contrary. Before he could rise to deliver his presidential address he collapsed and had to be removed from the dais. There-after his health broke down rapidly. Even when he was in his sick bed he used to hold meetings of the Executive Committee and Council of the Bengal Library Association in his Calcutta residence in Rani Sankari Lane frequently and everybody knew that a visit to his house on any occasion on any account was sure to be rewarded with a warm reception and sumptuous treat of choicest delicacies in which Bengal Zamindars used to specialize. The Bengal Library Association planned to celebrate his 72nd birth anniversary in a befitting manner. But his illness stood in the way of such a celebration and ultimately in August 1945 the Association held a solemn function on this account at his residence where he lay seriously ill. A copper plate with inscriptions eulogizing his noble deeds, services and sacrifices in the cause of the Library Movement was respectfully placed in his quivering hands by the Secretary of the Bengal Library Association in a somber atmosphere of profound emotion and suppressed fears and tears of a select gathering of his lifelong co-workers and friends. Within three months after this, death crept in and he breathed his last on 20th November, 1945.

Among the non-professional promoters of the modern Library Movement in India Kumar Munindra Deb Rai Mahasaya will always be remembered with deep affection and admiration for his noble contributions.

4. Tinkouri Dutta

Tinkouri Dutta was an engineer by profession, but dedicated his entire life for the cause of library movement in Bengal and for Bengal Library Association. He served as its General Secretary, Vice-President and President. He took active interest in the construction of the building of the Association and its various publications. He worked hard for the spread of library movement in Bengal. He kept close relations with the public libraries functioning in the rural areas. He had intimate relation with Dr. S R Ranganathan. He regularly attended the All-India Library Conferences of Indian Library Association and also served as Treasurer of the Indian Library Association.

5. Sushil Kumar Ghosh

Alternate Text
Though Sushil Kumar Ghosh was not a librarian by profession, he devoted his life for library movement in Bengal. Addressing the Belgaom session of Indian National Congress in 1924, he stressed the need of social education for spreading political consciousness among the masses and argued that libraries would be the best media for accomplishing this task.

He proposed setting up of a library association in each province for organizing library movement. The very next year All-Bengal Library Association (later renamed as Bengal Library Association) was set up and Sushil Kumar Ghosh was elected as the first General Secretary of that association. In the said capacity he toured different districts of the undivided Bengal and dedicated himself in developing public opinion in favour of library service and library movement. He was also associated with Indian Library Association set up in 1933. He also published a book entitled ‘Library Andolan o Siksha-Bistar’ (Library movement and spread of education) in Bengali language.

6. Nihar Ranjan Ray

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Born in Mymensingh in 1903, Niharranjan Ray had early education in the National School where has father was employed as a teacher. He had his higher education in  Calcutta University from where he studied ancient Indian History and culture and earned his M.A. in 1926. That very year he was awarded Mrinalini Gold Medal for his Political History of Northern India AD 600-900. During 1927 and 1933 he spent some time in Burma with his teacher Professor Benimadhav Barua and did research on Burmese temple architecture.

Nihar Ranjan Ray was a well known educationist, specialist in Tagore Literature. He was Librarian and Head of the department of Library Science in the Calcutta University.  He was very closely associated with Bengal Library Association and served as its General Secretary, Vice President and President during different terms of office. He also served as Director of Librariasnship Training Course of Bengal Library Association and also the Editor of the Bengal Library Directory. Several times he presided over the Bengal Library Association Conferences. He was President of Indian Library Association during 1960-1964. He was Chairman of the Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation and Director of the National Library, Kolkata. He was awarded Padmabhushan by the Government of India for his outstanding contributions. 

7. Phani Bhusan Roy

An organizing leader of library movement in Bengal and a well-known personality in the country, Phani Bhusan Roy served as the librarian of the Commercial Library, Government of India, for a long time. Besides, he was also associated with LIS teaching in Jadavpur University, Bengal Library Association and IASLIC. He served in different capacities in both Bengal Library Association and IASLIC. He was editor of IASLIC Bulletin for quite some years. He was a member of the Drafting Committee of the West Bengal Public Libraries Bill and member of the State Library Council. He tirelessly worked for extension of public library services in rural areas of West Bengal, mobilizing public opinion in favour of Public Libraries Bill , modernization of LIS education, maintaining statistics about activities of public libraries, formulating standards for public library buildings and developing inter-library cooperation.  

8. Prabir Roy Choudhury

Born in 1933, Prabir Roy Choudhury remained associated with mass movement in West Bengal since his  student days. He was student leader of his Bangbasi College, Kolkata. Later he became Secretary and President of the West Bengal State Committee of the Students Federation of India. He did his Certificate Course in Library Science conducted by Bengal Library Association in 1956. He took keen interest in the affairs of Bengal Library Association.
He joined the Jadavpur University Library in 1957 as a cataloguer. In 1966 he did his M. Lib Sc. from the University of Delhi with First-Class-First division. He was awarded Prof S Dasgupta Gold Medal for this achievement. There after he joined the Department of Library and Information Science of the Jadavpur University as a full time teacher where he rose to the position of Professor of Library and Information Science.
He played leading role in the enactment of West Bengal Public Libraries Law. He served the Bengal Library Association in almost all positions. He was also associated with IASLIC and Indian Library Association. He took active interest in the organization of Book Fairs in different parts of West Bengal. He was honoured with Fellowship of Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation and Kaula Award for his contribution to library movement in the country.


1. “Rabindranath Thakur (1861-1941)”in Library Movement and Library Development in West Bengal & Sikkim. Part-2 by PSG Kumar. Delhi, B.R.Publishing Corporation, 2011. p.805

2. “Chakrabvarty, N.C. Pioneers who are no more.” Indian Library Association Bulletin 3, no.3-4 (1967):149-152
3. “Chakrabvarty, N.C. Pioneers who are no more.” Indian Library Association Bulletin 3, no.3-4 (1967):154-7
4. “Tinkouri Dutta (1898-1963)” in Library Movement and Library Development in West Bengal & Sikkim. Part-2 edited by P.S.G. Kumar. Delhi: B.R.Publishing Corporation, 2011. p.806-7    

5. “Sushil Kumar Ghosh (1894-1964)”in Library Movement and Library Development in West Bengal & Sikkim. Part-2 by P.S.G. Kumar. Delhi, B.R.Publishing Corporation, 2011. p.806  

6. “Nihar Ranjan Ray (1901-1981)”in Library Movement and Library Development in West Bengal & Sikkim. Part-2 edited by P.S.G. Kumar. Delhi: B.R.Publishing Corporation, 2011.p.807

7. httpwww.banglapedia.orgHTR_0149.HTM accessed on 14/12/2012

8. “Phani Bhusan Roy (1918-1993)”in Library Movement and Library Development in West Bengal & Sikkim. Part-2 by P.S.G. Kumar. Delhi, B.R.Publishing Corporation, 2011. p.810-11
9. “Prabir Roy Choudhury (1933-2007” in Library Movement and Library Development in West Bengal & Sikkim. Part-2 by P.S.G. Kumar. Delhi, B.R.Publishing Corporation, 2011. p.812

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