The Times of India - Feb 24, 2012
Rohit P S, TNN
HYDERABAD: Housed in dilapidated buildings with infrequent supply of electricity, shortage of staff and facing space crunch due to increasing number of old books, the government libraries in the Old City are crying for urgent attention.
Hyderabad district has about 90 libraries of which 40 are located in the Old City, reflecting that once this part of the twin cities had a vibrant reading culture. Today, the condition of these libraries is a deterrent for visitors. More than half of them are beset with infrastructure problems and lack of repair and maintenance of the buildings. The students who form the core of reader-visitors to these libraries say they wished the store house of books would also contain reading material for students and allocate exclusive areas for them.
The Shah Ali Banda library is the only grade one institution in the Old City. Staff here says that the more than two-decade-old building is in need of repairs. "Electric wiring needs to be redone. Repairs are also required to the roof and walls. Damp and water leakage are affecting the books," said a record keeper.
According to officials of City Central Library, which is the district nodal centre and supervises the functioning of the libraries in the city, the libraries in Sultan Shahi, Mir Alam Mandi, Jangamet, Doodhbowli, Dabeerpura and several other areas are in need of dire repairs. "At most places the buildings breed moth, the eternal enemy of paper, due to dampness. Some libraries do not have electricity forcing staff to keep them open only for a few hours," complained an official.
Space is also a major problem for the Old City libraries for the officials. "Every year we receive a large number of books from the City Central Library. But there is hardly any place to keep the 1000 books that we recently received due to lack of proper mechanism to weed out the old books which pile up every year. Hence new books which have to be on the shelves, are lying in the cellar," said the record keeper at Shah Ali Banda.
The students also feel that the libraries should frequently update their stock with new edition text books. "The library does not get new editions of required text books, and other reference materials, which are usually very expensive. We need them for preparing for the exams," said Shanti Swaroop, of Shah Ali Banda.
It is not only these problems that are keeping denizens away. Says Javeed Ali a resident of Moghalpura, "Earlier libraries were the only place where information about anything was available. Today with the advent of internet, the libraries seem to have lost their importance. Obviously they have failed to keep pace with the changing needs of the people. It seems even the government has lost interest in funding and maintaining them. Today reference books are rarely updated. This has caused the readership to dip drastically."
The library management staff at the City Centre library cites staff shortage as a reason for the status of the Old City's libraries but deny shortage of funds. "Last year we were allocated Rs 59 cr which is sufficient for our operations. We cannot take up repair or construction works unless proposals come from the library itself. Most of these libraries are in a neglected state due to shortage of staff," said a senior official.
According to him, the government has filled existing vacancies through outsourcing but there are still 139 vacancies of the total 259 posts available. This has left several libraries without librarians, burdening existing employees. The problem has only been compounded in the last few months as staffs from the libraries were diverted for census duty.
When asked why libraries in the new city are thriving despite staff problems, the official said that people in the new city are more active in maintenance of their community libraries as compared to their old city counterparts. "In areas like Himayat Nagar, we receive complaints from the residents and members of welfare associations if there is something wrong with the functioning of the library. But we seldom receive complaints from the Old City areas. This attitude has also contributed to the decline of the Old City libraries," he said. Source: The Times of India
On the same shelf:
Treasure trove of knowledge, ASIF YAR KHAN, The Hindu, November 14, 2010
It's a treasure trove of books at the Shah Ali Banda library. Brimming to its full capacity, the library is one of the many popular landmarks among book lovers of the old city. The very fact that the library brims with avid readers as evening falls is a testament to its popularity.
A grade one library managed by the Hyderabad city Grandhalaya Samastha, it proves to bridge the gap between knowledge and its seekers. The shelves of this five-decade-old library, one of the oldest facilities in the old city adorn more than 60,000 titles covering various subjects and languages. A whopping 13,900 English language books are part of the collection.
It is its collection that spreads over various subjects like science and technology, management, computers, literature and competitive exams material that draw job aspirants and students from different parts of the old city and its surrounding areas in hordes.
“One does not find such a huge collection of English language books in any library of the old city. Moreover, a large part of the books in the collection are on different subjects useful for the students of higher studies,” says Indresh, a regular to the library. This library also has a collection of Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil and Sanskrit Books.
It has the distinction of aiding scores of job aspirants in the past who, even after gaining jobs in various government services and private companies recall and compliment the place that still attracts job aspirants.
“The library stocks many books useful for those appearing for the competitive exams hence it turns out to be an accommodative place. Moreover, it is within reach for most of the dwellers of old city ,” says K. Srikanth, an M.Sc. graduate who is preparing for competitive exams.
The only drawback of this facility is an Internet service. “If that is provided, it would be helpful to the visitors.” feels a regular to the library.
Source: The Hindu.