International and Comparative Librarianship

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This Blogosphere has a slant towards India [a.k.a Indica, Indo, South-Asian, Oriental, Bharat, Hindustan, Asian-Indian (not American Indian)].

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Rare manuscripts gathering dust


6 May, 2007 l 0836 hrs ISTlTIMES NEWS NETWORK]

PATNA: More than 5,000 rare manuscripts in different languages are decaying in the Patna University (PU) Central Library for want of proper upkeep and preservation.

Even as the library was linked with the Information and Library Networking programme of the UGC several years back, these valuable manuscripts are yet to be transformed into digital and electronic forms.

The manuscript section of the library, once considered to be a repository of rich cultural heritage, has been lying locked for the last several years.

The section was being manned by two research assistants and a manuscript binder, but all the three employees retired and there is none to look after this valuable section today.

The AC machine installed in this section for protecting manuscripts from decay has not been in operation for the last 25 years.

The manuscripts include 1,530 in Persian, 440 in Urdu, 316 in Arabic and 2,547 in Sanskrit, Maithili and Hindi.

All these manuscripts were made available to the library during the last 80 years by different researchers and scholars.

In fact, the PU library itself is facing acute shortage of staff, with all the top posts of librarian and assistant librarians lying vacant. The library, which contains more than 2.50 lakh books and journals, has not appointed any trained staff in the last one decade.

Surprisingly, the libraries of most of the postgraduate departments of Patna University are non-functional in the absence of any trained library staff.

Last year, PU had interviewed hundreds of people for appointment as class three and four staff, including library staff, but no appointment has been made till date owing to reasons best known to the authorities alone.

Consequently, valuable books and journals purchased by the departments with the University Grants Commission (UGC) grants are gathering dust in the libraries. When contacted, Patna University history head Kameshwar Prasad told The Times Of India that the manuscript section of the Patna University library was not proving beneficial to the research scholars due to its poor upkeep.

He pleaded for modernisation of this valuable section so that the rare manuscripts in the possession of the library could be saved for their future use.

The Patna University registrar, Vibhas Kumar Yadav, said that the university would soon appoint a full-fledged librarian. After this appointment, the manuscripts would be digitised, he said.

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