Srinagar: Director General National Library of India (NLI) and Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation (RRRLF), Kolkatta, Prof Ajay Pratap Singh arrived on a two-day visit here Tuesday to take first-hand appraisal of the measures for upgrading library facilities in Jammu and Kashmir.
Prof Singh also attended the 2nd meeting of the Union Territory-Level Library Advisory-cum-Purchase Committee (UTLLACPC) constituted by the J&K government to recommend measures for development of library services and upgradation of library facilities.
The committee also makes a selection of books to be purchased by the Libraries Department for its libraries.
Welcoming the participants, Director Libraries gave an overview of the initiatives taken by the Department to upgrade the infrastructure in public libraries and provide best possible facilities to the users.
He said that for the first time around 350 titles of reference books for civil services examinations had been provided in all the public libraries across J&K.
The committee recommended the books to be purchased under RRRLF scheme, books not covered under RRRLF and books from local authors.
Director General, National Library of India stressed the need for making available important reference books and study material for civil services and other competitive examinations in the public libraries, both in e-format and as hard copies.
He also called for organising regular interaction of the students with experts on how to crack civil services examinations.
He also sought proposals from J&K for upgradation of libraries under the National Mission on Libraries (NML), as the UT has till date not availed any funding under the scheme.
Singh visited various sections of the Oriental Research Library and SPS Library Srinagar and interacted with the staff, research scholars and students to seek their feedback on how to further improve the library facilities.
The UTLLACPC meeting also discussed the measures to be taken for effective implementation of the directions given by the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha regarding transformation of public libraries in J&K.
These include upgradation of public libraries as digital libraries and turning them into productive e-Learning-cum-Career Counselling centres in convergence with Smart City Mission and Mission Youth, J&K, establishment of IT Hubs at SPS Library Srinagar and SRS Library Jammu, upgradation and modernization of the District Libraries and setting up of libraries at Panchayat level as part of Youth Clubs to be established by the Mission Youth, J&K.
The other proposals discussed at the meeting include establishment of tribal libraries in convergence with the Tribal Affairs Department, collaboration with coaching academies and study centres for arranging online and offline coaching for competitive exams for J&K students, shifting of City Central Library from SPS Library building to Gani Memorial Reading Centre at Rajouri Kadal Srinagar, establishment of reading room at Habba Kadal, Srinagar and Wanpora, providing online access to NDLI and NCERT books and other e-resources, making available e-books in the public libraries, automation and networking of public libraries, conservation and preservation of manuscripts housed in Oriental Research Library Srinagar and assistance to voluntary organisations (NGOs) providing public library services.
The meeting was informed that J&K has the distinction of having the oldest libraries in the country including SRS Library Jammu established in 1879 and SPS Library Srinagar established in 1898.
The department operates a vast network of 130 libraries in J&K including three central libraries, one Oriental Research Library, 12 district libraries, 50 tehsil libraries, seven block libraries, 36 border block libraries, seven shrine libraries and 14 lending depots and reading rooms.
These libraries have a rich repository of around 13 lakh books including 5000 rare books and 6000 manuscripts in different languages.
The number of registered members in the public libraries of J&K is around 90,000 and the annual footfall of users is around 2.80 lakh.