United in the misery is the poor cousin in Namakkal

Maintaining libraries is a challenging task, especially when the officials concerned are bogged down by space and financial crunch.

Published: 17th November 2019 07:13 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th November 2019 07:14 PM   |  A+A-

With no space to accommodate books, Vaiyappa Malai library cuts a sorry picture

With no space to accommodate books, Vaiyappa Malai library cuts a sorry picture

Express News Service

NAMAKKAL: With 148 libraries left in the lurch in Namakkal, its District Library Officer (DLO) K Ravi has now sent a proposal to construct 21 new buildings, with a sole aim to create a better platform for students to learn.

However, the need of the hour is different, feels Secretary of Tamil Nadu Consumer Association K Subbarayan.

Blaming the local body for inordinately delaying disbursal of the fund, he says, “The library cess is being levied under section 12 (1) (a) of the Tamil Nadu Public Libraries Act, 1948, in the form of surcharge on the property tax or house tax levied under the Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act, 1920. After the Education Department's government order in 1992, the library cess has been enhanced from five paise to ten paise per Re 1, working out to 10 per cent of the total property tax collected. This fund is not being handed over to the authorities concerned. Besides, most of the libraries under the Anna Marumalarchi Scheme introduced by the late M Karunanidhi continue to remain closed.”

Issues abound

A rusted name board, broken windows and rain-battered roof tiles. This is the identity of a 25-year-old library in Pudupatti, a small village 40 km from Namakkal. This is the main source of learning for children and aspiring bureaucrats. Over 500 new patrons have recently joined this library.

Maintaining libraries is a challenging task, especially when the officials concerned are bogged down by space and financial crunch, says secretary of the Pudupatti government school's alumni association D Vinoth.

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“Pudupatti library is in a pitiable state. It has been functioning in a ramshackle building for years now. Its partly-damaged concrete ceiling, exposing its steel rods, creates panic among the visitors. Despite having hundreds of books in different titles, there is only a small space for readers to use. The situation goes out of hands during the rainy season and a good number of books bear the brunt of it. Although the association has submitted petitions to the collector, MLA K P P Bhaskar and MP A K P Chinraj, no action has been taken so far," he adds.

In dire need of a facelift

While running the libraries is tough, it is even more difficult to maintain patronage among the readers, believes Seerapalli village library officer P Chandrasekaran. Having over 1,000 members, the Seerapalli library, constructed at the cost of `34 lakh years ago, is in a dilapidated condition for a decade. A few days ago, it started functioning in a rental building. "A letter has been sent to the District Library Officer (DLO) to sanction the rent (`3,000 per month). Considering the locals' welfare, the State government should come forward to construct a new building for this library," he says.

Staff struggles

Explaining the difficulties in running libraries in rental buildings, Namakkal DLO K Ravi says,
“There are no basic amenities, including toilets, in such libraries. This has been a cause of concern for many women staff. With the library cess, it is not possible to construct a new building, but only buy new books, dailies and provide salaries to the staff. The collector has been informed about this library's condition. We will be able to serve the readers better if the funds are released," he urges.

Ravi also says that a proposal has been sent to the collector for constructing new library buildings in 21 villages, including Akkaraipatti, Paramathy, Gurusamypalayam, Chellapatti, Balamedu, Varagur, Thathrathiripuram, Selliyayipalayam and Pavithram.

Not disabled-friendly

The District Central Library functions in the middle of the city. Reaching the place itself is an ordeal, says S Subbramanian, a disabled resident. "With no ramp inside the building, we have to use the stairs to access books on the first floor. This has discouraged many disabled from visiting this library. The district administration should fix these issues at the earliest," he requests.

Sources in the municipal administration say that Pallipalayam, Tiruchengode, Namakkal and Rasipuram municipalities have to give Rs 97 lakh library cess to libraries until March 2019 and the delay in providing the amount is due to a failure in tax collection.


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