For over two decades, the legendary Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji’s Sarasvati Mahal Library, which has the distinction of being one of the few medieval libraries of world, has been functioning without a full-time director. A picture of neglect today, the library is even without an administrative officer for the past two years affecting its functions severely.
Some of the key posts at the library, namely Curator Preserver, Conservator, Publication Manager and several posts of language pundits were lying vacant affecting its core functions of preservation and publication of manuscripts and assisting research scholars.
“To preserve the valuable manuscripts from destruction, the conservators used to inspect each and every volume once in six months. If there was any pest found in any volume, it had to be fumigated,” said an employee on condition of anonymity. Publication work at the library, famed for its collection on music, dance, cuisine, astrology and astronomy, was also compromised due to the vacancies. The library’s printing press did not have a printer or full-time DTP assistants. The number of books published has come down from 26 books in 2006 to two in 2012.
Three vacancies in the posts of librarian has also jeopardised the function of the library.
“Of the total of 46 sanctioned posts, there are 22 vacancies at present,” said a member of the staff association. To make matters worse, even the present staff members were paid only the take home salary for the month of November. Their dues to the credit society was not paid, a staff said. The disbursement of salary for the month of December was hanging on the heads of the employees as they learnt that the balance in the account for salaries was thinning out.
The sorry state of affairs in this prestigious institution was being attributed to the absence of a full-time director since August 16, 1991, when Sadasivam, the last full-time director,
demitted office. Since then, successive District Collectors were holding additional charge of Director’s post.