HYDERABAD: The renovation and restoration works at the State Central Library at Afzalgunj, declared a heritage monument in 1998 by the Ministry of Municipal Administration and Urban Development, seem to be never-ending.
And, thanks to this, thousands of Arabic and Persian texts are in danger of being damaged.
Most of them have been left untouched amidst all the electrical and restoration works in progress. The five-storied library has Arabic and Persian sections in two floors in the cellar. These books are meant only for reference and have never been issued to the public as they are very rare. But the problem is even though these two sections have been closed for the public in the last few months, authorities have not considered relocating the books.
Even more disturbing is the fact that the actual count of the books is not available and so, logically, even if some are lost, there is no way of knowing the same. “These are very rare Persian and Arabic books. We are considering an alternative while renovation works are going on. But they could not be shifted or mixed with Urdu books,” said K Subba Reddy, chief librarian.
He, however, said the books would soon be relocated and that no book will be damaged in the process. On the brighter side, about 13,652 Persian and Arabic books have been entered into a catalogue ie, the universal digital library and the process is on to cover the entire collection.
MM Ali Khan, retired manager, APSRTC, who has been a regular to the library since 1957, said, “Nowadays, no book is available according to the index and there seems to be staff shortage.
Thousands of books are kept out of the readers’ sight.” Abdul Razzak, an engineering graduate preparing for higher studies, however appeared happy amidst the books available. He is all praise for the recently renovated Urdu section. “The books are well arranged in alphabetical, numerical and index order. I am amazed to see the Hindu ‘Shivapuranam’ in Urdu here along with books printed by the Nizam’s press,” he said. Syed Imtiazuddin, incharge of the section, said, “on an average, around 35- 45 people visit our section every day and we issue about 150 books per month.” The library, which was first set up at Abids GPO in 1891, was later shifted to Afzalgunj in 1936.
Around 17000 manuscripts of Persian literature dating back to 5th and 6th century AD were transferred to the Andhra Pradesh Oriental Manuscripts library in 1967.
The library which currently houses around one and a half lakh Telugu and English books and about eighty five thousand Urdu books also possesses rare collections of Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit books.