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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Little valuable treasures

It was a sight in 1972 about poor upkeep of little magazines, that led to a thought of preservation of these periodicals and nearly 39 years later has developed in a unique library of little magazines.

Written by Shiv Sahay Singh |
September 4, 2011 3:09:57 am

Sandip Dutta,now a retired school teacher in Kolkata,has been collecting little magazines on various subjects for over 40 years

It was a sight in 1972 about poor upkeep of little magazines, that led to a thought of preservation of these periodicals and nearly 39 years later has developed in a unique library of little magazines. Sandip Dutta sitting at his Tamer Lane’s maginificent collection of the little magazines in North Calcutta still remembers the sight at national Library when the little magazines tied by ropes were left unattended and there was no space for them in National Library.

Almost every evening amidst the usual din of busy college street his library—‘Kolkata Little Magazine and Research Centre’ with a collection 60,000 independent,experimental periodicals ( Little Magazines) there are students,researchers and even budding writers scouting the periodicals. Many of these periodicals are rare on various issues politics,cinema,arts,sociology,philosophy and religion housed in what used to the dining room and the main entrance of his ancestral house.

Dutta,60,now a retired school teacher has not only been painstakingly collectings these valuable treasures from the piles of old books but also publishing little magazines and is hinself an author of 20 books,three on little magazines.

At one point of time he submitted a proposal to University of Calcutta,to do Phd on Little magazines,although his proposal was not seriously taken he has been called there many times giving lectures on the subjects. Dutta has come to rescue of many authors who were unable to find their own creations. Dutta says ‘Once Mahasweta Devi asked him if I had some of her old writings as she had lost them and provided the author with her writings. Similarly he had come to resue to many authors who were in the dillema that their creation has been lost.

Ask him how difficult it was it the beginning and his face lights up. He talks about how he scribed in his diary that the initiative was to do something constructive and made a piggybank,named it ‘Three Penny Opera’ and set aside a part of his earnings. How he held , an exhibition of 750 little magazines to protest against the shocking upkeep these periodicals in September 1972 and how through his work on bibliography he got his first readers.

The library first named ‘Library and Laboratory for Bengali Little Magazines’ was formally opened on June 23,1978 and thrown open to the public on May 8,1979.

Now it has over 150 members,54 life members and at least a dozen daily visitors. In 1993 he held ” All India Little Magazine Conference’ and has been regularly holding exhibitions across the country to spread awareness about the little magazines and the need for such a library.

He has also made a platform where young authors would give their writings and then it would be printed in few periodicials. In love with printed word,Dutta where writers would get a platform to write and get published.

Now the retired school teacher is planning to approach government to come up with a place where these voulmes can be properly kept. He has come up with a building commitee and a fund to come up with a place for his library.

With all rooms of his house crammed with books and periodicals,Dutta put things in place before he approaches the state government for a permanent place where these periodicals find a place.

Nearly 39 years ago Dutta,in his diary has penned that he wanted to do something useful for Little Magazines,a look at his library leaves no doubt that his endeavour has surpassed all odds and stands as testimony to his love for preservation of periodicals.

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