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Saturday, 28 April 2012

New home for old & rare books

TNN | Apr 23, 2012, 03.21AM IST

The state central library occupies the pride of the place among public libraries of India, especially for its collection on Goan history and culture and Indo-Portuguese history, which is widely consulted by research scholars from India and abroad.

With the state central library moving to its news premises at Patto, Panaji, the main problem it faced for the last three decades-that of shortage of space-has been resolved. Such was the space problem that the library was forced to shift some of its sections and stack areas to other premises.

The new five-storey spacious building, set to be inaugurated on Monday, has all amenities and necessary infrastructure, to make every Goan proud as no other state public library in India has a building of such standing. It is a state of art library, now named Krishnadas Shama Goa State Central Library, in recognition of Shama's contribution to Konkani literature in the 16th century. Shama, a native of Quelossim, is the author of Krishna Caritrakatha and various other Konkani texts.

The library in its new premises provides resources and services in a variety of media and plays a vital role in bridging the gap between the information rich and the information poor by providing public access to the internet as well as providing information in traditional formats, through different sections.

Activities related to registration of new members, issue and return of books are carried out on the first floor, including book drop facility using RFID technology. Besides, around 27 local and national newspapers and over 250 periodicals on socio-political, economic, scientific and technical topics as well as magazines on sports, films, cultural and literary aspects, are displayed here. The reading services are open to all, however, the borrowing facilities can be availed of only by members. There is also provision for the blind with a Braille collection and specially designed non-book material.

The second floor is set aside for children, right from toddlers to 12 years old, with specially designed furniture and interiors. In addition to children's books, and reference sources, it has a good collection of maps, globes and other audio-visual material, including toys. Children are also provided access to computers and internet. The internet browsing centre is also on this floor, which can be accessed on payment of charges fixed by the library. The library has access to a number of databases like, DELNET, CMIE, EBSCO, Indiastat and JSTOR online databases.

The circulation or lending section is housed on the third floor, with books in English, Marathi, Konkani and Hindi, on different subjects, which cater to the educational, cultural, informational and recreational needs of the users. Since a majority of the readers borrow books for leisure and recreational activity, the collection on fiction and biographies exceeds that of other subjects. Old issues of magazines and journals are also made available for home issue.

The fourth floor, houses the rich heritage of Goan history and culture. Manuscripts as well as early imprints, are displayed on this floor. It may be noted that during the 16th and 17th centuries, various religious books, bilingual grammars and dictionaries were written by missionaries, the early imprints, are those which were published in Goa during these centuries. Conservation of this collection was earlier done by the library with the experts from INTACH, Lucknow. The library is a resource centre for studies related to Goa, including Indo-Portuguese history. It has a number of primary published sources, on Indo-Portuguese history, these include chronicles, official correspondence and documents and ecclesiastical documents. Books related to Goa, Indo-Portuguese history, and works published in Goa are available on this floor.

Here one also finds bound volumes of the Boletim do Governo, an official publication dating to 1837, an important source of information concerning various government enactments, rules and relations of different socio-cultural and religious institutions, service orders relating to appointments, leave, suspension and retirement. Prior to 1889 historical write-ups too were published in this bulletin. Complete collections of the Official Gazette, Government of Goa, Daman and Diu, and the Official Gazette-Government of Goa can be found here.

Teh library has a rich fount of historical and archaeological journals, as well as present day journals and magazines published in Goa, in addition to a rich collection of over 160 titles of local newspapers dating back to 1861, all published in Goa prior to liberation. Besides all newspapers published in Goa since liberation are maintained in this section. This collection is an important source for local history.

Provision is also made for conservation and preservation of books, for which purpose a fumigation chamber and a preservation laboratory have been installed. An imaging centre also functions here for scanning of rare and old documents and making them available in the digital media.

The reference section, on the fifth floor, has standard reference sources like general and subject encyclopedias and dictionaries, yearbooks, almanacs, biographical, bibliographical, statistical and geographical reference sources, books for various competitive examinations, and expensive books on various subjects, besides educational video records.

Books on all subjects written in Portuguese, French and Latin, in addition to some English works, acquired prior to liberation are maintained on the sixth floor. Bibliographical rarities dating back to the early 16th century are also in this collection. Besides books published in Portugal and its overseas provinces, like Angola, Mozambique, Macau, Guine, Cabo Verde and Timor received under the provisions of Deposito Legal, Portuguese Book Delivery Act are found in this section. This is a unique library in India having bibliographical rarities in Latin, Portuguese and French.

The writer is former curator, state central library

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