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Public Library services & Library Movement in Manipur

by Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh
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Public Library services & Library Movement in Manipur

Introduction: A public library, often called the heart of a community, is a cherished institution that stands as a beacon of knowledge, accessibility, and inclusivity for the public. Unlike private libraries, public libraries are funded and operated by public sources, serving as educational and cultural hubs for people from all walks of life. With a rich history that dates back to the civilization of mankind, public libraries have evolved into essential community assets, providing free access to a vast treasure trove of information, literature, and resources. Embracing the core principles of equal access and lifelong learning, public libraries foster an environment where individuals can explore, learn, and grow, making them an invaluable cornerstone of modern society. Today, public libraries have evolved into welfare centers, fostering education, promoting culture, and providing opportunities for healthy recreation. They play a crucial role in disseminating information to all segments of society. With the integration of Information Communication Technology (ICT), they have become community education centers with a broader canvas. Public libraries actively support economic and social development by providing relevant information sources and services. They act as essential support systems for educational institutions, serving as auxiliaries for self-education that knows no bounds. Public libraries are central in society as accessible gateways to knowledge, culture, and personal growth. They are crucial in empowering individuals through education, providing a space for self-learning, and disseminating reliable information. With their unwavering commitment to serving all community members, public libraries continue to enrich lives, foster a sense of community, and support the progress of society as a whole.
Objectives of Public Library: With their vast collection of books, resources, and knowledge, public libraries hold a significant role as educational and cultural hubs accessible to all. These institutions have clear and well-defined objectives encompassing a wide range of purposes, all aimed at serving the diverse needs of their communities. The primary objective of a public library is to provide information, knowledge, and resources to the general public, satisfying their informative, educational, and recreational needs. However, beyond this fundamental goal, public libraries also strive to foster personality development, support education, promote self-development, and contribute to the overall economic and cultural growth of the society they serve. Public libraries are much more than buildings filled with books; they are vibrant hubs of knowledge and learning that play a crucial role in empowering individuals and enriching communities. Their diverse objectives encompass everything from providing access to information and fostering a reading culture to supporting education, preserving cultural heritage, and promoting economic growth. Public libraries are indeed the cornerstones of knowledge and empowerment, profoundly impacting society.
Functions of the public library: Public libraries, often called the heart of a community, are essential institutions that serve as invaluable resources for people of all ages and backgrounds. These knowledge hubs hold many functions that cater to the diverse needs of their patrons, making them vital contributors to education, culture, and community development. In this composition, we explore the functions of the public library and how they serve as gateways to knowledge, empowerment, and lifelong learning like: Access to Information and Knowledge Dissemination; Support for Education and Lifelong Learning; Cultivation of a Reading Culture; Community Engagement and Social Cohesion; Preservation of Cultural Heritage; Empowerment through Information Access; Promoting Economic Growth and Entrepreneurship. The functions of the public library extend far beyond providing access to books. These knowledge hubs are vital in education, community engagement, cultural preservation, and economic development. By embracing their multifaceted functions, public libraries become beacons of empowerment, fostering a society where knowledge is accessible and individuals are empowered to thrive and contribute to their communities.
Public Library in Manipur: The origin of library and its development in Manipur is associated with the origin of literature. In order to trace the origin of library in the state we need also to look back to the origin of literature and literary aspects since literature constitutes the shadow of culture, socio-economic condition, tradition, etc. of the Manipuri society. Again, moreover, library is the only agent procuring, processing, preserving and disseminating the literature of the past. Giridhari Singh (2011) observed that there are exemplary evidences that the people of Manipur started writing from the 3rd century A.D. Manipuri kings were patrons of learning. They developed Pandit Loisang (Council of Learning) for writing and production of books and other literature and maintained library. Writing of Cheitharol Kumbaba (Royal Chronicle) started with the Pakhangba’s accession to the throne in 33 A.D. Maintenance of the Chronicle by the Pandit Loisang is believed to be started from the 5th Century A.D, an ample evidence of developing library. King Khagemba maintained the palace library properly from 1597 and the books and other manuscripts (Puyas) preserved during his reign are still having high position in Manipuri Literature today. The Royal library suffered a setback during the reign of King Pamheiba following Puya Meithaba (burning of Puyas) in 1729. The Kings of Manipur continued to maintain royal library for a long time even though there were setbacks in between because of many reasons. The library movement in Manipur, as per records and evidences so far received is believed to be started by Dr. H. Atulchandra Singh by establishing Manipur Club in 1927 with the provision of library facilities. Establishment of Schools like Johnston School (1885) marked the beginning of library in academic institutions (school) in the state.
The public library system in Manipur is condemned to remain peripheral to the actual information needs of the masses; it is in a depressed state and serves as no more than a warehouse of recreational reading materials, majority of which are in regional languages. With the rise of young library professionals, the Rayburn Journal 54 new generation are now much aware of the importance of public library, it is very much imperative to create awareness among the public too and for the Government to restore all non-functional libraries at all cost. If lack of staff is there, recruitment must be done in hasty manner since it is the need of the hour. This will provide job opportunities for professionals, and will be beneficial for the society and the community at large. The government needs to align its priorities to serve users and learners and work towards universal education and accessibility of information. Public libraries are indispensable as a community hub to enrich and nurture knowledge and mould intellectual. With the establishment of MALA in 1987, the library movement in this part of the country, in fact, took a concrete shape. The participation of the voluntary organizations of the state in the development and movement of the library is also of great significance. The READ (Rural Education And Development) India also has reached this northeastern corner of the country in the development of rural library and community resource centers since 2009. The NSS Cell, Manipur University has also launched a project to establish NSS Community Library in the rural areas.
Conclusion: In conclusion, the public library is a beacon of knowledge, empowerment, and community development. It is a vital resource for people of all ages and backgrounds, providing access to information, supporting education, promoting a reading culture, and fostering social cohesion. As custodians of cultural heritage, public libraries preserve the collective memory of communities and promote local history and identity. Beyond books, libraries create an environment that encourages lifelong learning, intellectual curiosity, and personal growth. With their diverse functions and unwavering commitment to serving the public, public libraries play a pivotal role in enriching lives and empowering individuals, making them essential cornerstones of knowledge and learning within society.
(Writer can be reached at:[email protected])

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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