UNABLE TO care for or use over 30,000 very old and rare books, including some first editions dating back to the early 1900s, the government library at Mantralaya, the state headquarters, has disposed of these by sending them to a godown in Tardeo.
Officials from the Directorate General of Information and Public Relations (DGIPR) said 30,072 books were sent to the Tardeo godown from its library on the fifth floor of Mantralaya. The library was earlier in a 987-sq ft area on the ground floor of the building. It was shifted to the fifth floor after the main building underwent extensive renovations following a major fire in 2012, in which the fourth, fifth and sixth floors were gutted.
“When the library was shifted to the fifth floor, it was allocated an area of 1,900 sq ft and was therefore required to relinquish the 987 sq ft area it occupied on the ground floor. However, a studio was set up in the ground floor to shoot government programmes, leading to an additional claim on the space allocated for the library on the fifth floor,” said an official.
The Chief Election Officer’s office needed space for its office, so 1,100 sq ft of the 1,900 sq ft library on the fifth floor was given to the former, leaving the library with less space than it had earlier.
The books that were despatched to the godown are on subjects ranging from history, philosophy, economics, politics, administration, law, rare reports, art and culture. Until some years ago, officers used the books as reference material. Over the past few years, however, the Mantralaya library has itself seen falling footfalls.
“The library was not used by anyone in the last three years. So, we decided to send these books to the godown,” the official said.
Brijesh Singh, Director General of the Directorate General of Information and Public Relations, said the government has identified and kept rare and valuable books aside. “We have plans to digitise them. Besides, other books have also been kept for safe upkeep,” said Singh. A senior DGIPR official said the department was scouting for suitable spaces where the books may be kept and used. “We are exploring the option of giving these books to the Asiatic Library. We have also asked the state legislature whether they can accommodate some books in their library,” the official added.
B B Waghmare, librarian of the state legislature library, said they have received a communication from the DGIPR about accommodating some books.