Follow Us:

Calcutta University libraries to be opened to the general public

The reading rooms have a capacity of taking 100 people at a time. “Though we have a staff shortage, with around 50 per cent vacancies, we are trying to maintain the huge collection

Pracheta Panja | Kolkata |

Bookworms have a reason to celebrate as Calcutta University’s (CU) libraries are set to be thrown open to the general public. In what is claimed to be the first such initiative in the country, CU will open its libraries in all eight campuses, including the central library at the College Street campus, for all for reading purposes free of cost.

The central library will be open from 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. every working day and the libraries of the other campuses will be open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Vice-chancellor Sonali Chakraborty Banerjee told The Statesman, “The university library has a rich collection of books and journals, and rather than restrict them only to the students, we want to make them accessible to the general public.

Anyone can come to any of the libraries in any campus of the university and can access any books. We already have a collection of more than 12 lakh hard copies of books on various topics and 52 thousand new books are being added.” “We are not only focusing on the students, but also on people from various professions and of various ages.

We have books which a homemaker would love to read in their leisure time, like novels and short stories, to books for students who are preparing for different competitive examinations like WBCS, IAS and many more but are unable to take tuition or buy books as they are very expensive,” she continued. Different corners will be set up, such as for Anglo-Indian studies, women studies, sports science etc. where people can come and sit and browse books in their specific areas of interest. “We are planning to convert a room into a corner for film studies where along with books, journals, CD and DVDs and a big screen will be there,” the VC said.

The mass education extension and library services department of the state government sanctioned Rs 5 crore to the University of Calcutta for the development of the libraries. The university decided to use the funds for expansion of the libraries to enable access by the general public. After they received the first installment of two crore rupees they started buying books and developing the internal infrastructure to welcome the reading public. Mrs Chakraborty Banerjee said, “Utilising the money, apart from buying books, we are developing the internal infrastructure of the libraries. We already have rich resources and are aiming to expand further. The thesis works and citations by researchers can be found in our library. We are trying to compile them and upload them as e-journals so that they will be more easily accessible to the researchers.” The university’s central library, an eleven-storey building full of books and journals from the year 1500, has different sections including some rare collections.

The reading rooms have a capacity of taking 100 people at a time. “Though we have a staff shortage, with around 50 per cent vacancies, we are trying to maintain the huge collection. The new books need to be labelled properly and the special corners will be set up. Our team is working hard day and night so that we can make the libraries public as soon as possible. The rare books are kept out of the students’ access as they are damaged and need to be restored,” Soumitra Sarkar, librarian of Calcutta University told The Statesman while providing a tour of the restricted floors of the central library. The university has already connected their 18 hostels with WIFI so that the students can get access to the libraries. “The security system needs to be strengthened in view of the general public being given access,” Mr Sarkar said, “We have already installed CCTV cameras and if needed, we will increase security.”