SAMBALPUR: The public libraries in the City have lost their sheen and patrons consequently. Till a few decades back, the public library at Badbazaar near Samaleswari temple drew a lot of crowd. Regular debates among school students were organised and the place abuzzed with activity.
Set up in 1962 by Sambalpur Municipality, the library is now crying for attention. There was a good collection of books on all subjects and it was being supported by Raja Ram Mohan Ray Foundation. Subsequently, it was provided with a television and people flocked to watch programmes.
But gradual neglect by Sambalpur Municipality (now Sambalpur Municipal Corporation) is all set to push the library into oblivion. The asbestos roof of the hall is broken and water is seeping into the library. While there is no qualified librarian, a Class IV employee manages it.
Sachindra Sahu, son of former minister Dr Jhasketan Sahu, said last year a branch of a tree nearby fell on the roof and since then it has not been repaired despite repeated pleas. They had moved the corporation for restoration of the library and a Junior Engineer had even visited the spot but to no avail, he added. Senior advocate Muralidhar Agrawal alleged that such is the plight that even books are being sold with old newspapers. Deputy Commissioner of SMC Sudhansu Kumar Bhoi said there is no immediate plan for restoration and revival of the library at Badbazaar.
The situation of the public library of Information and Public Relations Department (I&PR) at Golebazaar Chowk is no different.
The library, established in 1945, has now turned a haven for criminals. There is dearth of reading materials and staff. It is being manned by one librarian and a peon. The footfall at the library began to decline and about 20 to 25 people visit it now. Gone are the days when people waited for their turn to read a newspaper. While subscription for newspapers has been stopped, only two magazines are subscribed. There is no toilet facility in the library. Librarian Santosh Mishra said he has apprised the higher authorities about the issue and attributed the reason to declining readers.