Despite fulfillment of necessary criteria, Sri Gowthami Regional Library is yet to enjoy a ‘national status’. After the ancient language status was conferred on Telugu, it is time to elevate the status of the regional library as it has thousands of books on Telugu literature, among others.
The negligent attitude and apathy of the elected representatives is another reason for the delay. The regional library will get more funds, books and research facilities once it gets the national tag.
Currently, there is only one national library in the state. After the Tanjavur library in Tamil Nadu, the biggest in the region is Sri Gowthami Regional Library. It was set up by Nalam Krishna Rao in 1898 and christened Sri Veeresalingam Panthulu Library. Noted scholar Addanki Satyanarayana Sarma started another library in the name of Vasuraya Library.
Following the advice of the elite in the city, the two libraries were merged and named as Gowthami Library and registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1920. In 1979, the government took over the library.
Andhra Desa Grandhalaya Sangham secretary Pathuri Nageswara Rao suggested merger of the two libraries to get regional status. Vavilala Gopala Krishnaiah and AB Nageswara Rao were successful in getting regional status to the library.
The library comprises books from the 12th century, including Sanskrit Bible, first 1771 published copy of the Britannica Encyclopedia, silver coated stylus for writing on palm leaves, copper plates and palm leaf manuscripts and 15,000 rare books.
Of them, 1,500 books were published prior to 1900, around 8,115 books by 1923 and 5,000 books up to 1950.
At present the library is having 1.03 lakh books, including 71,130 of Telugu, 21,974 of English, 7,967 of Hindi, 372 Urdu books, 667 other books, 411 palm leaf manuscripts, six copper plates and 40 unpublished manuscripts.
The library is having sections for reading, reference, children, newspapers, internet and textbooks. There is a daily footfall of 1,000 to the library and boasts of nearly 5,000 members. The internet facility is also available for `10 per hour.
Literary stalwarts like Kandukuri Veeresalingam Panthulu, Chilakamarthi Lakshmi Narasimham, Bhamidipati Kameswara Rao, Kasinadhuni Nageswara Rao and Raja Vikram Dev Varma (1869-1951) visited the library. Mahidhar Jaganmohan Rao was the last secretary of the library under the committee.
Librarian VSN Murthi told Express that the library would be developed on all fronts once the national status is accorded. The library houses many rare books which are not available anywhere in the state.