CHENNAI: English periodicals like Economic & Political Weekly, Time and The Economist will soon be available in public libraries across Tamil Nadu for the the first time in the 70-year-old history of the Department of Public Libraries. They are expected to help candidates prepare better for competitive exams conducted by the Union and Tamil Nadu Public Service Commissions.
Despite being cash-strapped, the Department of Public Libraries has managed to source not only Rs 2 crore through State-run Textbook Corporation for this purpose, but also an additional Rs 1 crore exclusively for the Anna Centenary Library (ACL) in Chennai.
For now, the scheme will apply to 593 district central, full time and branch libraries. In all, the department has close to 4,600 libraries under its umbrella.
The chronic shortage of funds had forced the authorities to provide only dailies to its members till now. The demand for Tamil and English periodicals has been on the rise, particularly in district central libraries where several candidates use them all day to prepare for various exams. “However, not all content published in English periodicals is available online for free as many of them have digital paywall,” said K Sanjay, a UPSC aspirant who regularly visits the ACL.
Of late, most of the questions in the ‘current affairs’ section are based on content published in these weeklies and those who can afford but one or two magazines, he added. This issue was taken up at a recent meeting where senior authorities from the Department of Public Libraries and the School Education Department were present. Though they were hesitant initially, sources told Express that the Textbook Corporation agreed to foot the bill.
The Director of Public Libraries S Kanappan said: “Nearly 60 English periodicals will be made available in all 32 district central libraries and select publications among them will be available in branch and full-time libraries.” He added that talks were on with some of the leading publication houses to provide concessions. Once the deal is done, periodicals will be dispatched to all centres.
School Education Secretary T Udhayachandran said that these periodicals were chosen from the list of 165 publications shortlisted by a selection committee.