Odisha’s libraries face an uncertain future

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The majority of libraries in the state, whether in educational institutions or public libraries, face an uncertain future due to a lack of librarians and severe infrastructural deficiencies.

There are 125 public libraries in the state, in addition to 323 private libraries that receive grants from the state government. Under the Culture department, there are 30 public libraries including 17 district libraries and six ex-district board libraries.

 

According to the General Administration department, there are 398 librarian positions open across all departments. However, only 60 positions were approved for appointment this year by the Finance Department’s empowered committee.

 

Interestingly, there are 315 librarian posts sanctioned in 36 Odisha Adarsha Vidyalayas (OAVs) under the School and Mass Education department, but only one was filled last year in the iconic OAV at Andharua, Bhubaneswar.

According to School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash, all librarian positions in OAVs are managed by ancillary staff or school teachers. This is a violation of CBSE standards, with which the schools are affiliated. “We will advertise for librarians for 35 OAVs in the next one to two months,” he added.

In the first phase (2018-19), 1,000 such libraries were to be built, with the remaining panchayats to be covered over the next two fiscal years. However, according to the Ministry of Panchayat Raj’s eGramSwaraj portal, 123 panchayat libraries have opened in the state as of today. There are 6,851 general practitioners in the state.

According to Sai Niranjan Mohapatra, a librarian who founded the ‘Library Movement of Odisha,’ there has been no concrete progress on the front despite the Orissa Public Libraries Act, 2001 and the Odisha Public Library Rules, 2016.

 

 

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