The District Central Library which functions at Kiliyanad paints a grim picture of official apathy and betrayal. Functioning in a building of the erstwhile Kiliyanad Upper Primary school, with a treasure trove of around 70,000 books including out-ofprints, reference books and official gazettes dating back to 1940’s, the lack of a proper building of its own and leaky roofs, lack of space and shortage of staff is spelling doom for the library. Two decades back the library was like a beehive filled with activities when it was functioning at Mananchira. Library authorities states that its shift to Kiliyanad and the present dilapidated state tells a story of betrayal that unravelled in the mid 1990’s, of which many of the renowned literary laureates in the city played a major role.
The Central Library in Kozhikode, which is under Local Library Authority (LLA), was functioning at Mananchira in around 30 cents of land. In 1994, the government decided to revamp it and construct a new building. Its downfall started with the authorities shifting the library to the PWD building at Chevayur on a temporary basis. “The decision to move the library was taken based on the assurance that the new building will be constructed in a year’s time. Later an advisory committee with eminent personalities was formed to overlook the revamping process. Although the new building was constructed, it was never handed over to LLA. “In the meantime, a Trust was constituted with the District Collector as the Chairman and in no time the Kozhikode Public Library and Research Centre came up in the place of the Central Library. The government also issued an order to hand over the building and the property to the Trust rather than to its earlier occupants,” said K Chandran, secretary, Kozhikode District Library Council.
Following a long legal battle between LLA and the governing body members of the Public library, the High court in 2005 ordered the building and the property to be handed back to LLA. On December 15, 2010, the state government issued an order authorising the Kozhikode District Collector to hand over the Kozhikode Public Library and Research Centre to the Library Council. However, the governing body of the Public library comprising writers M T Vasudevan Nair, M M Basheer, among other members moved the High Court and obtained a stay order from the Kerala High Court in this regard.
The case still remains unresolved. “Aside from the never ending legal battle, another immediate issue we are facing is the acquisition of the land at Kiliyanad for the widening of the Vellimadukunnu- Mananchira road. Once the work commences, the school building would have to be demolished and we will be left with no place. The only option is to shift the library back to its old place at Mananchira,” Chandran added. Janamma Kunjunni, Health Standing Committee Chairperson, Kozhikode Corporation, said that the Kozhikode Public Library and Research Centre had urged the immediate intervention of the District Collector to resolve the matter and protect the heritage of Kozhikode.