Introduction Professor Niharranjan Ray, on request from the Ministry of Education and Social Welfare, prepared a perspective plan of activities for the Foundation for the Fifth Plan Period and submitted the report to the Ministry in September 19731. The Administrative Committee of the Foundation considered the report and it was duly endorsed by the General Body of the Foundation in January 1974. A comprehensive library development plan for the country was reflected in the document and it provided a basic guideline for the preparation of the plan of work for the Foundation for the Fifth Plan Period commencing from 1974-75. The programmes and activities taken up by the Foundation were as follows:
With the aim in view to improve library facilities in the country, the Foundation has adopted certain schemes of Matching and Non-Matching Assistance. To avail assistance of the Foundation under the Matching Scheme a state/ Union territory administration has to pay contribution on a predetermined basis. The amount varies from Rs.1.00 lakh to Rs.200.00 lakhs depending on the size, population, library infrastructure and past utilization of funds. From the financial year 2006-07 the matching formula has been revised to vary from category to category2. For the developed states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharastra, West Bengal etc. it is 50:50, for the developing states other than the North-Eastern states it is 60: 40 and for the North-Eastern states it is 90: 10 where 10 is the state share and 90 is the Foundation.
Non-Matching assistance is normally given to the State Central Libraries and District Libraries to augment their stock of reading materials of all states and union territory administrations and partly to the Children’s Section of general public libraries3. Non-Matching assistance is also available to the NGOs associated with public library services for construction of building, purchase of furniture and equipment including computers for library application. Non-Matching assistance is available for purchase of books also. All categories of libraries – government, semi-government, libraries run by statutory bodies and voluntary organisations are under the purview of the assistance schemes of the Foundation.
A major share of assistance is earmarked for increasing stock of books of libraries, promotion of reading habit being the primary concern. Various schemes of assistance towards construction of library building, purchase of furniture and equipment, audio-visual materials for library application are also extended. A scheme of assistance towards mobile library service and rural book deposit centres was introduced, but this scheme has yet to ignite due interest among the library managers. With a view to improve the quality of library service schemes of assistance towards organization of seminars, workshops, training courses, book exhibitions etc. are provided. From 1986-87, the assistance scheme towards voluntary organisations was transferred to the Foundation by the Department of Culture, govt. of India. From the fiscal year 1987-88, three new schemes, viz. (1) increasing accommodation in the public libraries below district level, (2) acquiring TV-cum-VCP sets for educational purposes, and (3) developing children’s libraries or children’s section of general public libraries were introduced4. During 1990-91, another new scheme of assistance to the public libraries towards celebration of years has been introduced. During the year 2005-06, yet another new scheme of assistance towards establishment of Children’s Corner has been introduced and the children’s scheme has been amended to include provision of assistance towards opening of Women’s Section, Senior Citizen Section and Neo-Literate Section. The scheme of assistance towards Celebration of Centenary Years has been amended to include provision for assistance towards celebration of 50/ 60/ 75 years of existence5.
8.1 Assistance towards Building up of Adequate Stock of Books & other Reading and Audio-Visual Materials including CD.
Assistance under the scheme is given from two sources:
Matching source and Central source.
In the Matching Source the responsibility for selection, purchase and distribution of books is vested in the state authority.
Non-Matching (Central) Source:
In the Non-Matching Source the Foundation is responsible for selection and supply of books.
8.1.1 Assistance to State Central Libraries and District Libraries (Matching Assistance)
In this scheme of assistance the State Central Libraries and District Libraries are assisted with books directly by the Foundation purchased through Central Selection.
8.1.2 Strengthening District Library Centres6: At its very first meeting, the Foundation decided that the first priority in establishing a country-wise library service was to lay a strong framework at the district level. Such a district library nucleus would provide a sound base from which the service would be extended the sub-district levels such as the blocks and villages. It was the Foundation’s hope that in suitable phases, the Foundation would ultimately be able to cover villages with a population of more than 1500 and above7.
The Foundation also suggested that to get such a district-village-block level network, the first step was to prepare district plan in cooperation and in consultation with the State Governments. The Foundation, therefore, suggested for building up of library planning committees for each state consisting of representatives of the states as well as the Foundation.
It was also decided that the assistance from the Foundation would for the present in the form of books. The State Governments taking the responsibility to provide necessary equipment and staff. Accordingly, a book selection committee was set up as mentioned earlier to select a list of core books in English, Hindi and the respective regional languages for supply to each district library to start with.
During the year 1973-74, the Foundation continued its major programmes of strengthening district library centres through supply of books and other reading materials. 372 district libraries served as for the Foundation’s development activities as book distribution centres.8 In addition, 72 Nehru Yubak Kendras set up by the Government of India for organizing various educational activities for the youth of the age group 15-25 were also treated as equivalent to district library centres and were covered under the Foundation’s programme of supplying reading materials to the libraries.
During the year 1974-75, the Foundation continued its major programme of strengthening the district library centres through the supply of books and other reading materials. 375 district libraries and 82 Nehru Yubak Kendras were served as the Foundation’s centres of book distribution.
During 1975-76, 390 district libraries served as the foundation’s centres of book distribution. In addition, 95 Nehru Yubak Kendras set up by the Government of India for organizing various educational activities for the youth of the age group of 15-25 were also treated as equivalent to the district library centres and were covered in the Foundation’s programme of supply of books and reading materials.9
During 1976-77, 416 district level libraries served as the centres of the Foundation’s book distribution. In addition 120 Nehru Yubak Kendras set up by the Government of India were covered in the Foundation’s programme of supply of books and reading materials.10
During the year 1977-78, the Foundation had given assistance to 23 State Central Libraries, 397 Regional and District Libraries and 130 Nehru Yubak Kendras in different states and union territories.11
From the year 1978-79, the present scheme of assistance has some revisions. The scheme from this year replaced the existing title with the new one that follows:
8.1.3 Assistance to State Central Libraries, District Libraries and Sub-Divisional Libraries State Central Libraries have been constituted by almost all the states. Of them, Connemara Public Library, Madras, and Asiatic Society Library, Bombay gets books under the Delivery of Books Act12. Delhi is served by Delhi Public Library. There are also regional libraries in the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Maharastra and Rajasthan13. District Libraries have been established in most of the districts. These are either government libraries or government-aided libraries14. Some State Central Libraries and Regional Libraries function as District Libraries for the respective districts in which they are located15 . State Central Libraries and Regional Libraries are usually government libraries. However, Gujrat Vidyapith in Gujrat, Sinha Library in Bihar and Moulana Azad Library in Madhya Pradesh are notable exceptions. In the state of Karnataka there are 17 City Central Libraries and 10 District Central Libraries are functioning as administrative authorities. Zilla Granthalaya Samsthas and City Granthalaya Samsthas in Andhra Pradesh, in the like way, have been functioning as administrative authority. Senior Secondary School Public Libraries and Secondary School Public Libraries are functioning in Himachal Pradesh16. In Uttar Pradesh 50 Inter-College Public Libraries are functioning. In Rajasthan, 237 Government Sarvajanik Panchayat Samity Pustakalayas at the school campus are functioning17. In Madhya Pradesh, 800 Nodal Centres under the Continuing Education Programme of Rajiv Gandhi Siksa Mission have rendering public library services18. All public libraries except the State Central Library in Kerala are run by Voluntary Organisations in terms of the provisions of the Kerala Public Libraries Act19.
The organizational pattern of the public libraries in the states in India is not uniform. In Tamil Nadu out of 2711 public libraries, 1530 are Branch Libraries20. In Gujrat about 129 Women’s Libraries and 9 Braille Libraries are functioning. In Maharastra there are 5 Maharastra Mandal Libraries, 14 Government District Libraries and more than 1000 grant-in-aid libraries. For the purpose of giving grants libraries classified into different groups according to its size, status etc. Many libraries are run by voluntary organisations, registered or unregistered. As the objective of the Foundation is promotion and development of public libraries all over the country, especially, to the small towns and remote villages, such type of libraries run voluntary organisations are also given great importance in extending assistances from the Foundation.
8.2 ASSISTANCE TO URBAN/ TOWN & RURAL LIBRARIES
8.2.1 Development of Library services in rural areas at Block/ Taluka/ Sub-area/ village Level:
The district library centres being adequately structured and enforced the Foundation extended its library services to the block and village level through mobile library services and other ways. Because of the publicity measures adopted by the Foundation the larger number of state governments are coming up to get advantage of the assistances of the Foundation for promotion and development of library services in their respective states. Some of the state governments have drawn up comprehensive plans in their states in consultation with the Foundation and have extended the library services to the block, taluka/ sub-area/ village level. The organizational pattern of the libraries below the district level is not uniform in the country. They do not always conform to the administrative units. In the South they are called Branch Libraries, in the West, taluka Libraries, in the North, Tehasil Libraries and in the East, Sub-Divisional Libraries.21 Further below, we have Block, Municipal, Town and Rural libraries. Most of these are private libraries run by voluntary organizations, registered or unregistered. For the purpose of giving grants the libraries are sometimes classified into various groups. Since the aim of the Foundation is to take library service to small towns and villages great stress has been laid upon assistance to this group of libraries.
From the year 1978-79, for assistance purposes the libraries below the District Level are grouped together as Rural Libraries. These may be Taluka, Block and village libraries. These libraries are mostly run by voluntary organizations with or without aid from the Government. Since the aim of the Foundation is to take library services to the rural areas, great stress has been laid upon the scheme of assistance to rural libraries. This is evident from the fact that 5436 rural libraries have been covered and books worth Rs.31.28 lakhs were supplied to them during the year 1978-79.
8.2.2 Assistance to Rural Book Deposit Centres and Mobile Libraries/ Organisation of Mobile Library Services:
The Foundation has introduced mobile library services in some states with the help of state governments. The Foundation provides bicycles, carriers, signboards, and other incidental charges for this purpose. These mobile services are attached to some district, central or area libraries wherefrom books are distributed to different centres of the cities, towns or villages. Till 1974-75 the Foundation introduced such mobile library services in the states of Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal22.
During 1975-76, mobile library services have been introduced in the states of (1) Kerala, (2) Uttar Pradesh and (3) West Bengal.
During the year 1976-77, mobile library services have been introduced in the states of (1) Gujrat, (2) Kerala, (3) Uttar Pradesh, (4) West Bengal and (5) Tripura.
8.2.3 Rural Libraries run by Voluntary Organisations:
Most of the libraries in the country are run by voluntary organizations. The Administrative Committee of the foundation decided that the Foundation should also assist the libraries run by the voluntary organizations, particularly in the rural areas. The Foundation circulated the scheme to all the State Governments and Union Territories. On recommendation of the State library Planning Committees the foundation covered 39 libraries during the year 1975-76 in this newly introduced scheme.
This scheme especially aims to provide library services for the neo-literates. From 1978-79 this scheme has been modified as ‘Assistance towards development of Rural Book Deposit Centres and Mobile Library Services’. Assistance under this scheme is provided to certain institutions and voluntary organizations in the form of books, cycles, rickshaws, bags etc. the recipient institutions are expected to circulate books from one delivery station to another with the help of cheap modes of transport or volunteers.23 145 libraries were covered in this scheme of assistance during the year 1976-77.24 During the year 1977-78, the Foundation rendered assistance to 35 voluntary organizations.25 During 1978-79, the Foundation approved a scheme of mobile library services by 50 libraries of Kerala. 50 bicycles with careers were supplied for the purpose.26 Book assistance was also given to Gujrat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad, and Ramakrishna Mission Loka Shiksa Parisad, Narendrapur West Bengal for developing rural book deposit centres in their respective areas.27
8.2.4 Assistance to old and well-established libraries towards processing, binding and preservation of out-of-print and old books and of rare manuscripts:
This scheme of assistance has been adopted by the Foundation since 1975-76 to the libraries which are extending services for more than 25 years and possess old books and rare manuscripts in Oriental languages viz. Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic etc. These books are suffering proper maintenance for insufficient fund. Assistance is generally given on recommendation of the Conveners of respective State Library Planning Committees and on the number of rare books and manuscripts required to be bound, processed and preserved.28 A scheme of assistance to these libraries for the purpose of processing, cataloguing and preservation (fumigation, lamination, repair etc.) of rare and out-of-print books and of rare journals and manuscripts was approved by the Foundation. The Bangiya Sahitya Parisad, Calcutta was sanctioned a special grant of Rs.9,750.00 for binding 1948 old and valuable books under this scheme29. A token provision of Rs.1.5 lakh was made for this scheme for the 1974-75 budgets. During 1975-76, a token provision of Rs.2.50 lakhs was made for the scheme30. During 1976-77, the Foundation spent an amount of rs.2.02 lakhs towards financial support in this scheme of assistance.31
During 1977-78, the Foundation rendered financial assistance to 38 libraries.32
Supply of prints of well-known paintings: In addition to books the Foundation also made a modest beginning in divulging the rural population to the rich and varied heritage of the country. A set of six paintings of typical Indian art was selected from Lalit Kala Akademi and was supplied to all the District Library Centres and Nehru Yubak Kendras33.