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50% libraries running headless, Bengal takes baby steps

Arunima Ghosh | Kolkata |

Even as more than 50 per cent libraries are running headless, state government is set to fill up only six per cent posts and that too through re-employment on contractual basis.

There are around 5,600 posts of librarians across the state of which 3,200 are lying vacant. There are 2,400 libraries in the state. During the erstwhile Left Front government’s regime 200 libraries were closed down and in the last six years, another 100 have been closed.

Now, the state library services directorate’s directive to fill up 184 posts is being considered as just a drop in the ocean.

According to the directive, the 184 posts will be filled up in sponsored libraries in Alipurduar, Bankura, Birbhum, East Burdwan, Howrah, Jalpaiguri, Murshidabad, Nadia, North 24 Parganas, West Midnapore, Jhargram, East Midnapore, Purulia and South 24 Parganas.

“The government has accorded approval towards filling up of the following posts on contractual basis from retired library employees in different categories,” read the notification.

Of these total posts, highest number of 31 posts would be filled in North 24 Parganas, followed by 26 posts in Murshidabad, 23 posts in West Midnapore and 22 posts in South 24 Parganas.

In Alipurduar three posts would be filled up, in Bankura five, one in Birbhum, 13 in East Burdwan, 12 in Howrah, five in Jalpaiguri, 14 in Nadia, 11 in Jhargram, 10 in East Midnapore and eight in Purulia.

Mr Siddiqullah Chowdhury, MoS mass education extension & library services, however, assured that the process for recruiting full-time librarians will be started very soon. Process has been initiated to recruit 400 librarians and chief minister Mamata Banerjee has given her nod for recruiting around 2000 librarians.

The move, however, has not gone down well with the Opposition-led state government employees associations who criticised the government for re-employing officers instead of going ahead with fresh recruitments.

“There is a huge number unemployed youths so what is the need of re-employing the retired staff. The trend of re-employment is detrimental. Library science is being taught in colleges so it is strange as to why the candidates completing this course are being denied scope for employment. We have always been against contractual appointments. Moreover, it is only the employees who are in the good book of the government gets chance for re-employment. So, employees are afraid to voice their demands,” said Mr Moloy Mukhopadhyay, general secretary of INTUC led Confederation of State Government Employees.

The trend of contractual appointment through re-employment has become a common feature in departments as staff crunch has become a major botheration.

Last year, retired audit or accounts officers were engaged on contractual basis in the finance department.