In an internet driven world when youngsters are hooked to their phones or tablets 24 X7, finding students engrossed in books in a library can come across as a pleasing sight to the eyes! So, when MCL team recently visited Harekrushna Mahtab State Library, the number of youngsters, mostly civil services aspirants enjoying their time with books did reinforce the faith that library still holds its old world charm for the young brigade.
However, what appeared a matter of concern was the number of complaints that these regular library goers had, though the administration claimed otherwise. The Harekrushna Mahtab State Library was established in 1967 and was known as Gandhi Bhawan initially. But on August 15, 1987, the government decided to rechristen the state library after the former chief minister of the state.
Talking about the collection of books and other facilities the library offers, senior manager in the administration department Kishore Swain told MCL, “The total collection of books would be approximately 2,20,045 out of which 207 books have been purchased for the year 2015-16. The seating capacity of the library is almost around 411. The children section has 20 seats, ground floor reading hall has 188, language section 1 has 15, language section 2 has 44, research and reference section has 20, depository section has four, newspaper sub-section has 30 and magazine sub-section has 90 seats.”
However, some the students who drop in at the library on a daily basis claim that despite the seating capacity, they study in the library’s backyard!
Rajesh Samantray, who is preparing for CAT, said, “We are not allowed to take our competitive books inside the library. The director has clearly told us that books from outside are strictly not allowed inside the library. Hence, we have decided to occupy the backyard of the library. Along with our friends, we sit on the floor and study late into the evening.”
According to Swain, the administration has always made an attempt to address the problems of the students. They received many complaints about the low voltage problems and to combat the issue they have installed an independent electrical sub-station. There is also a canteen that is functioning pretty well within the premises of the library. A proper parking facility is also provided to the readers of the library who come and go throughout the day. To overcome the problem of power cut, a silent mode generator has also been installed in the library. Besides, a section of the library also has WiFi services and we have plans to extend the services to the other departments very soon.
So, how do they generate revenue for the library? Photocopying by the students generates revenue for the library. Also, sale of membership forms and non refundable caution money (Rs. 1000) collected from the life members helps. However, while the administration insists they are doing their best, the students have a contradictory story to share.
Keshab Sahu, one of the students preparing for civil service examination told us that it has been a year since the AC in the library has been dysfunctional. “There is also inadequate seating space due to which we have to come out in the open with our books and sit in this heat without a fan. It is extremely difficult in the afternoons but we do not have any other option. As far as books and magazines are concerned, the library does offer some choices but that isn’t enough for preparations. The administration should look into these issues,” he claimed.
Similarly, talking about the canteen facilities, some of the students said, “Although there is a canteen, it remains closed more than often. So, we have to get food from outside which in turn disrupts our studies. Besides, there is not adequate space inside the canteen for students to sit and eat.”
Meanwhile, though the management has initiated the expansion work of the library since two years to increase the seating capacity for betterment of students, the construction process is yet to complete. Currently, the work has been entirely stalled posing more problems for the students.