Source of Information : IFLA
Page 1 of 8Date :
Access to information by the rural communities inIndian villages: the role of Raja Rammohun RoyLibrary Foundation (RRRLF)M. Sankara ReddyRaja Ramamohun Roy Library FoundationKolkata, India
Meeting: 141. Agricultural Libraries DG
WORLD LIBRARY AND INFORMATION CONGRESS: 74TH IFLA GENERAL CONFERENCE AND COUNCIL10-14 August 2008, Québec, Canada
Realizing the need to help supporting development, growth and modernization ofpublic libraries in India, Government of India has established Raja Rammohun RoyLibrary Foundation ( RRRLF) with laudable objectives. The RRRLF supports the StateGovernments with the matching, non matching grants and other assistance to publiclibraries. RRRLF aims at these public libraries function as community informationcenters to meet the information of villagers in their day to day life. Their informationneeds include variety of agricultural operations, agricultural products, fertilizers,pesticides, seeds, crops, agricultural education, agricultural marketing, poultry, sheepand goat rearing etc. The RRRLF has established four Regional Centers in the South,North, East and West, and its Directorate is located at Kolkota in India. This paperexamines the role of the RRRLF in the development and modernization of publiclibraries in providing information to the rural communities in India.Key words – India, Public libraries, Library foundation, Access to informationIntroductionPublic libraries in India are the neglected lot. Their progress is not on par withthe development of the university and research libraries. They function under theadministrative control of the state governments. Libraries are not a priority item as for asthe state governments are concerned. Realizing the need to help supportingdevelopment, growth and modernization of public libraries in India, Government of Indiahas established Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation ( RRRLF) with laudableobjectives.Page 2 of 8Raja Rammohun Roy Library FoundationThe RRRLF was created by the Central Government in 1972 on the occasion ofthe bi-centenary of the birth of Raja Rammohun Roy for “supporting and promoting anetwork of libraries, which could carry books and the reading habits to the remotest partsof the country”. Raja Rammohun Roy was a social reformer and a founding father of theIndian Renaissance.The RRRLF was inaugurated formally on May 20, 1972 at the campus of theNational Library, Beelvedere, Kolkota. The Foundation had laid down 29 objectives forits operation. The most important objectives are mentioned below.Objectives(i) to promote library movement in the country;(ii) to enunciate a national library policy and to work towards its adoption bythe Central and State Governments;(iii) to help build up a national library system by integrating the services ofNational Libraries, State Central Libraries, District Libraries and othertypes of libraries (children’s academic and special) through inter-librarylending system;(iv) to propagate the adoption of library legislation in the country;(v) to provide financial and technical assistance to libraries;(vi) to establish in the country Regional Library Service Centers which willoffer reprographic and book preservation services to assist in thereproduction and proper preservation of reading material, whether printedor in manuscript form;(vii) to maintain a national register of qualified librarians and their fields ofspecialization;(viii) generally to take all such measures as may be found necessary form timeto time to promote library development and its utilization in the country.The Govt. of India in order to implement and supervise the objectives statedabove established a Directorate of Libraries in the Ministry of Culture. The RPRLFduring the last 35 years had initiated many schemes for the establishment anddevelopment of public libraries in the country. The foundation had assisted about 35,000public libraries all over the country. Some of the accomplishments of the Foundation arementioned below.Accomplishments Survey of the conditions of the public libraries. Aid to establish the public libraries in the country. Provision of matching grants for purchasing and distribution of books directly byRRRLF to the public libraries in the country. Aid for the construction of building and purchasing furniture and other requisites. Modernization of public libraries by applying ITC and automation. Pursuing the DPLs to open the separate sections for women and children,physically handicapped, blind etc., Arranging annual lectures on public libraries in various parts of the country. Assisting Library Associations and of the NGO’s to conduct conferences,seminars, workshops etc.,Page 3 of 8 Announcing the best libraries awards. Training and retraining the library personnel working in public libraries. Encouraging research on public libraries issues and problems. Publications of Grandhana, RRRLF news letter and other publications. Establishment of four zonal offices in four parts of the countryLibrary Legislation(i) The RRRLF from its inception has been persuading and insisting on the StateGovernments to enact public library legislation. Due to its efforts the publiclibrary legislation has been enacted in West Bengal (1979), Manipur (1988)Kerala (1989), Hariyana (1989), Mizoram (1987), Goa (1994) Gujarat (2003)Assam (2005-2006), Orissa (2005) and Uttar Pradesh (2006). Still it iscontinuing its efforts to convince the State Governments in the remaining statesand union territories to enact the public legislation in the country..(ii) National Policy for Public Libraries (NAPLIS)The UNESCO in its publication “Guide Lines on information policy’, insisted itsmember states to publish their policy for public libraries. The Govt. of Indiaappointed a committee in 1985 under the Chairmanship of Prof. D.P.Chattapadhay for drafting comprehensive NAPLIS. The Director of RRRLF wasthe convener of the committee and helped it in formulating its recommendation.The draft policy was submitted to the Government and the RRRLF has beenperusing the Government of India to adopt this policy on par with the NationalEducational Policy the National Science Policy and the National Industrial Policyetc. The Draft policy is still pending with the Government of India. It has recentlyappointed a knowledge commission to review the entire scenario in the countryand submit its recommendations on public libraries.(iii) Survey of RRRLF on public LibrariesThe RRRLF established four Zonal Offices in the four zones of the country. TheAdministrative Officers in the Zonal Offices who are professional’s in Library andInformation Science regularly visit all the public libraries in their zonal jurisdiction andinform their Head Quarters about the State of affairs on public libraries. Further theRRRLF recently got a survey conducted on the State of conditions of the publiclibraries by a private organization viz. A.C. Neilson Org. Marg Pvt. Ltd. The reportstated that there are only 49757 villages have libraries, out of 5,57,137 villages in thecountry. This reveals that only 9% villages are having public libraries and per captiaincome incurred on public libraries is only Rs.0.07ps. The RRRLF based on the AC.Neilson Org. Marg report classified the states into three categories namely 1)Lagging 2) Developing 3) Developed. So the RRRLF from time to time either directlyor through agencies has been conducting survey on the public libraries in thecountry. The Neilson Org.Marg Survey Report pointed out the following perceptionstowards RRRLF initiatives by the libraries• Majority of the libraries perceived that the RRRLF schemes are instrumental tosolve the problems faced by the public libraries.• Different category respondents perceived that the RRRL Initiatives are the onlyeffort in it’s nature for the betterment of the public library system in the country.Page 4 of 8• Substantial number of respondents perceived that the Library would be in deeptrouble in case the RRRLF stops assistance.• However, voice to increase the assistance and initiatives from the RRRLF,mainly in-terms of financial assistance observed from the different categorylibraries.• Substantial number of respondents perceived that the RRRLF needs tocommunicates their schemes more explicitly to the beneficiaries, so that theycan avail the schemes depending upon their need and eligibility.(iv) RRRLF initiatives for the establishment of Public LibrariesThe RRRLF has been pursuing the state governments to give priority and toprovide funds for the establishment of public libraries in more and more villages. Itprovided funds for purchasing of lands, construction of buildings and also acquisition ofrequired furniture. Through the efforts of RRRLF several villages libraries wereestablished in the villages with its financial assistance to the states. The Foundation hastaken long strides in promoting library services in the country. It has spending more than35 crores annually for the growth and development of the public libraries in the country.(v) Matching grants to the statesThe RRRLF provides matching grants to every state annually for purchasing ofbooks, furniture, and computers etc., If a state government give 50% of the estimatedexpenditure the RRRLF provides the remaining 50% of the expenditure.The RRRLF provides assistance for the following programmes of the public libraries.• Assistance towards organization of seminars, workshops, training courses(orientation/refresher) awareness programme and book exhibitions.• Assistance towards supply of storage and display materials and reading roomfurniture.• Assistance towards development of Rural Book Deposit Centers and MobileLibrary Services.• Assistance to public libraries for increasing accommodation.• Assistance to public libraries to acquiring TV-cum-VCP sets for educationalpurposes/computers for application to libraries.• Assistance to voluntary organization providing public library services.• Assistance to children’s libraries and children’s section of general public libraries.• Assistance towards organization of seminar/conference by National levelorganizations.• Assistance to libraries towards celebration of Golden Jubilee year/PlatinumJubilee year/Centenary year/125 year/150 year/175 year and like.• Assistance towards collection and compilation of library statistics through officialand non-officials agencies.• Assistance towards establishment of the RRRLF children’s corner.• Assistance towards development of District Youth Resource Centers.Page 5 of 8(vi) Aid for construction of building for public libraries in the state and unionterritories.State governments in general lack finances for the development of public libraryinfrastructure. Building for a public library in villages is an important component.Philanthropist have been coming forward to give land for the construction of librarybuilding in the villages but the Directorate of Public Libraries are not in a position tomeet the expenditure for the construction of the library buildings. RRRLF has comeforward to extend financial assistance in such cases. A village library without abuilding is a difficult proposition. Besides the district sub-divisional and townlibraries, the RRRLF has been sanctioning Rs.4 lakhs for each rural libraries. Duringthe period 2007-2008 the foundation released building grants to one hundred twentyeight public libraries in the country involving an assistance of Rs.327.09 lakhs.Hence, the RRRLF program to aid the construction of public library buildings is alaudable one.(vii) Modernization of public libraries.The interface of computer technology with the communication technology made theflow of information easier and faster. The networking of public libraries has becomeessential. The public libraries in order to bring the latest information to the doorstepof the clientele the modernization of their collection and services has becomeinevitable. The RRRLF realized the lack of automation in public libraries. In order tofill in the gap, the RRRLF came forward to provide computers to all state centrallibraries (SCLs) and district central libraries(DCLs). It wants to network the SCLs andDCLs in the first phase. It also proposes ultimately to cover and link up all the publiclibraries, mandal libraries, village libraries and book deposit centres with the DCLs,SCLs and desire to establish the network of Indian public libraries on the model ofJannet in England so as to satisfy the ever increasing thirst for knowledge and easyaccess to information by the clientele in the rural communities. The modernization ofthe public libraries in the villages will enable rural communities in having access toneedy information. It is desirable to establish a photo digital library to help the publiclibraries.(viii) Opening New Sections or Reading Corners in public librariesThe RRRLF after making various surveys realized that certain sections of ruralcommunities like women and children have not been provided sufficient opportunitiesfor their reading needs in public libraries. Women are important in familydevelopment. The neglect of these two sections in the rural communities wouldweaken the democratic foundation of the Indian society. The RRRLF has beeninsisting and also financing the public libraries to open separate new sections forwoman and children in Public Libraries. These sections are to be provided withrequired collection of books and information material. This would result generally inimproving the reading habits of rural children and women. The RRRLF during thefinancial year 2006-2007 released Rs.56.93 lakhs for establishing the children andwomen sections in the public libraries.(ix) Annual lecture programThe RRRLF arranges annual lectures in various parts of the country in order tocreate the public library culture and awareness which is lacking at present. ThesePage 6 of 8lectures impress on the people on the importance of public libraries among theeducated for life long education.(x) Assisting LIS Associations and NGOs.The RRRLF assists all library associations at national and state levels to holdconferences, seminars debates, and workshops on library issues. Such debatesand discussions among various other things create the importance of public libraries,village libraries and community information centres in the society.(xi) Instituting awards for the best public libraries, best librarians and fellowships.The RRRLF has been giving awards annually to the best public libraries and the bestpublic librarians to motivate the library professionals to render positive services tothe people. This provides a sense of enthusiasm in the library staff to provide moreand more services to the rural people.(xii)Training and Refresher courses to the library personnel.Periodical grants are provided by the RRRLF to the Directorates of public libraries inthe states to conduct refresher training courses to update the skills of theprofessionals in the modern technology.(xiii) Encouraging research programs on problems and issues on public libraries.The ultimate goals of the governments in the democratic countries is to establish aninformation society or a knowledge society. As stated by J.S. Mill that the worth ofthe state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it. The RRRLFstrives through its different programmes to improve the knowledge of people and thesocial fabric it provides funds to research activity on public libraries, The young andexperienced professionals are provided with grants to carry out or to conductresearch on public library issues. This provides feedback to the RRRLF and enableto reorient its programmes and plans.Conclusion• The RRRLF is the only national agency which is devoting its full time for thegrowth and development of public libraries in India. It is anxious to establishpublic library network for flow of information from top to bottom and from bottomto top.• It is deeply concerned to help the rural communities to have the access toinformation for making better decision in their day to day transactions.• The RRRLF hopes to establish, through the state government authorities,libraries, in backward areas, tribal areas and forest and hilly areas in order tobring the illiterate, and innocent people into the main stream of public life.• The RRRLF has many splendid programs and plans. But its financial budget isscarce and limited. The government of India should provide atleast 3 to 4% of itsannual budget for the development of public libraries in the country. Publiclibraries should be considered as important as the educational institutions, likeschools, colleges and universities. The central government by establishing thecentral schools, central universities cannot think that it has provided sufficientlyfor the education of people. It has equal responsibilities for the establishment ofPage 7 of 8the public libraries as these are the gateways of information. According to theUNESCO Public Library Manifesto the establishment of public libraries,community information centres is mandatory on the part of the government. Thecentral government cannot leave this important responsibilities completely to thestate government authorities which have limited resources to provide publiclibaries in every village. The RRRLF should also strive hard and impress on thecentral government to bring out a National Public Library Policy all at the earliest.The national policy alone can provide the direction, and guidance for thedevelopment of the public libraries in the country.• The establishment of public library network is already delayed in India. There isBanks Network, Railway Network, INFLIBNET for the academic libraries butthere is no such network for the public libraries in the country.• The RRRLF should think of better programs and policies to take the cutting edgeof information to the rural communities at a grass root level to usher India intoknowledge society. Unless and otherwise such programs are adopted that therural communities will remain backward and suffer stupor for ever. The RRRLFshould strengthen the Directorates of Public Libraries in the states by providingmore money on the basis of percaptia of the population instead of giving matchgrants on adhoc basis. It also should bring great pressure through the Ministry ofCulture/HRD to enact library legislations by all the States and Union territories inthe country.• The RRRLF in order to be active and effective it has to change its institutionaland composition of its various organs and include more LIS professionals inactivities.• There is every need for introspection and improvement on the part of thefoundation in the following areas.o Changing requirement of users.o Attention on improving reading habits in the rural communities.o Fast adoption of modern technology like in the country. The presentpiece meal assistance.o Improve and increase its financial assistance is not sufficient andfound inadequate, to the libraries in the backwards states.o Need to provide internet connectivity and establish a National Networkand supply to the public libraries multimedia resources.o The programes of the RRRLF should reach the people at the grassroot level more explicitly in order to avail them.o The foundation should adopt proactive approach but not a regid opento percolate the benefits of its schemes.Books Consulted:Acnielsen Org-Marg Pvt Ltd – 2004 Evaluation study of states of public library withreference to the services of RRRLF, Final report, Kolkota (mimeo)Damle, Y.B. (1955) Communication of modern ideas and knowledge in Indian Villages,Poona: Deccan College.India. Planning Commission, New Delhi (1984) Report of the working group of theplanning commission on modernization of library services and informatics for theseventh five year plan 1988-1990, New Delhi, Planning Commission (mimeo)Page 8 of 8India: Human Resource Development, Ministry of --- (1986) National Policy on libraryand information system; A presentation (Chairan: D.P. Chattopadhyay) New Delhi;Committee on National Policy and Information system (Mimco)India human resources development, Ministry of – (1990) towards an enlightened andhumane society Report of the committee for review of National Policy on education(NPE) 1986 (Chairman Ramamurti) New Delhi, The Committee.Kaur, H.K. (2004) Role of public libraries as knowledge centers in modern society (paperpresented at the Raja Ramamohun Roy Library Foundation National Seminar, 14thFebruary 2004) (mimco)Mcarthur, Tom (1986) Worlds of reference: Lexico graphs, learning and language fromthe clay tablet to the computer, Cambridge; CUPMahapatra, P.K and THOMAS, V.K. (eds) (1996) Public libraries in developingcountries; status and trends (Dr B.P. Barna Festschrift Volume) New Delhi; Vikaspublishing House.Raja Ramamohun Roy Library Foundation, Kolkota (2008) Agenda; 73rd meeting of theFoundation, January 21, 2008 Kolkata: The foundation (1993)----Books for the Millions at their doorsteps “Information Manual” 5th Edition, 1997.----Memorandum of Association and Rules” 2nd ed, 1972.----Two decades of the foundation, 1972-1992, Kolkata; The Foundation.Ramaiah, L.S. etal (eds) (1997) Public library system: Services and networking (AFestschrift Presented to Prof. K. Sarada) 2 Vols, New Delhi: ESSESS publication.
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