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Libraries of Odisha
A Brief History
Libraries have been centers of education, recreation and information since early times in the land called Kalinga, Utkal, Udra South Koshala and finally Odisha in modern terminology. A trace of library could be seen from the stone books those were built and created in the rock shelters, caves of the early inhabitants during the pre-historic periods. The pictographs, ideographs, rock paintings of Ushakothi, Gudahandi testify the ideas. While tracing further in the historic period the Ashokan inscriptions at Dhauli and Hatigumpha inscriptions (300 BC) of Kharavela (100 BC) give evidence about the reading and writing traditions of the people. In the further history, we would find records and record rooms of different ruling dynasties in the imperial archives dating 3 A.D to 14th A.D. A continuous history of record keeping is established by the ruling dynasties of the Matharas (300 AD), the eastern Gangas, the Somavanshis, the Bhaumakaras, (700-800 AD) the Imperial Gangas, (600-12th AD) the suryavanshis (13th & 14th AD). Record keeping was further strengthened by keeping record keepers, librarians in the posts of Akhsyasalins, Sandhibigrahikas, Lekhakas, etc.
The temples mathas (monastreis), sanskrit tols, bhagabat tungis, agraharas and devagraharas established by the royalties also provided space and materials for reading for the public. In the further course of the history we would see that the Afghans and Muslims (16th-18th) brought paper books and established daftarkhanas with persons like munshis, daftatris etc. for maintenance of the records and record rooms. The Marhatas (Late 18th) reinforced the concept of the record rooms. The Britishers (1803-1948) further elaborated and brought with them the concept of societies and clubs with libraries. Of course prior to that, madrassas, maktabs and masjids were established by the Muslims to provide a scope of public reading to the mohammadans and Islamic people. The Zamindars, Qazis had personallibraries with good calligraphy and illustrations and colorful leather bindings. The Christians settled up their colonies and established cathedrals, chapels and provided libraries for public reading. They established printing presses and published book (in paper). The ruling chiefs of different feudatory states established public reading rooms and libraries as part of their social welfare activities by construction of roads, establishments of schools, hospitals, museums, archives, archaeology, printing presses, and durbar literature. This was the period attributed during late 19th century to early 20th century. The peoples Government was formed in 1936 after creation of the separate state. Plans for development of public libraries were prepared and actions were initiated for conservation, preservation and propagations of books published in the state under the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867. Collectors and the District Magistrates were entrusted with the jobs of depository libraries known as District Libraries. Subsequently five-year plans were taken up and schemes of State Library, Dist. Libraries, and District Board Libraries were implemented. The Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation Schemes were implemented in 1972 to provide a boost for public library development in rural and urban areas of the State. The State Government provided the matching assistance on 50:50 basis against the contribution of Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation. The present contribution of the state has been revised to 40:60 basis. The State Government is contributing Rs.80 lakh against Rs.1.20 crore of R.R.R.L.F. during 2006-2007. Committees have been formed for planning and programming of the libraries. Library Act entitled "Odisha Public Libraries Act-2001" is a landmark, which has created another initiative of the State Government to provide a framework of Public Library Development. The Public Library Services in the State is heading towards modernisation and IT applications. Funds from the Finance Commission have been secured for up-gradation of standards. Rs.7 crores from 11th Finance Commission award and Rs.10 crores from 12th Finance Commission award have been secured.
The libraries of Odisha are poised for a new era of development.
For further details, Contact: Dr. Buddhadev Panda, Deputy Director, Culture
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