TODAY -

Library movement and development in Manipur
- Part 2 -

Ch. Ibohal Singh *

Library at Manipur University (MU) , Canchipur as seen on October 21 2014
Library at Manipur University (MU) , Canchipur as seen on October 21 2014 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam



2. A Brief Account of the Origin and Development of Library in Manipur

The origin of library and its development in Manipur is associated with the origin of literature. In order to trace the origin of library in the state we need also to look back to the origin of literature and literary aspects since literature constitutes the shadow of culture, socio-economic condition, tradition, etc. of the Manipuri society.

Again, moreover, library is the only agent procuring, processing, preserving and disseminating the literature of the past. Giridhari Singh (2011) observed that there are exemplary evidences that the people of Manipur started writing from the 3rd century A.D. Manipuri kings were patrons of learning. They developed Pandit Loisang (Council of Learning) for writing and production of books and other literature and maintained library.

Writing of Cheitharol Kumbaba( Royal chronicle) started with the Pakhangba's accession to the throne in 33A.D.Maintenance of the chronicle by the Pandit loisang is believed to be started from the 5th Century, A.D., an ample evidence of developing library. King Khagemba maintained the palace library properly from 1597 and the books and other manuscripts (puyas) preserved during his reign are still having high position in Manipuri Literature today.

The royal library suffered a setback during the reign of King Pamheiba following Puya Meithaba (burning of puya) in 1729.The Kings of Manipur continued to maintain royal library for a long time even though there were setbacks in between because of many reasons.

The library movement in Manipur, as per records and evidences so far received, is believed to be started by Dr. H. Atulchndra Singh by establishing Manipur Club in 1927 with the provision of library facilities. Establishment of schools like Johnstone School (1885) marked the beginning of library in academic institution (school) in the state.

Library established in D.M. College (1946) and JNU Centre for Post Graduate Studies(1972) are the landmarks in the history of library development for higher education system at college and university level in the state. Public Library, in real sense, came up in the state, as the effort of the Government by the establishing the present State Central Library as the District Library in 1958.

The participation by the state government in the varied schemes of the RRRLF since 1981-82 has given an opportunity to develop and promote the public library system in the state. Opening of the Department of Library and Information Science by Manipur University in 1986 has also influenced a lot towards the promotion and development of library in the state.

With the establishment of MALA in 1987, the library movement in this part of the country, in fact, took a concrete shape. The participation of the voluntary organizations of the state in the development and movement of the library is also of great significance. The READ (Rural Education And Development) India also has reached this northeastern corner of the country in the development of rural library and community resource centres since 2009. The NSS Cell, Manipur University has also launched a project to establish NSS Community Library in the rural areas.

3. Some Past Studies

Studies on library movement and development are found to occupy a major place in the area of research in Library and Information Science. There is a large size of literature focusing on various issues related to movement and development of library systems across the world. India is also not an exception to this. Such studies in respect of Manipur are found to be carried out since late eighties.

Opening of the Department of Library and Information Science in Manipur University in 1986 and emergence of the Manipur Library Association (MALA) in 1987 have given ample scope for studying on various aspects of the movement and development of libraries in the state. Giridhari Singh (2014), Khomdon Singh (1991, 1997, 2014), Chaoba (1996),Sabita Devi(2014), Sanajaoba Singh(2014) have undertaken different studies on public library movement and development and the need for legislative support for the same.

Ibohal Singh & Madhuri Devi (2008) in a study discussed about the public library services in knowledge for all programmes taking into account the eighty years experience in Manipur which also analysed the public library movement and development in the state. A sizeable number of studies are also found to be carried out by some scholars covering aspects of library movement of the state since recent past.

4. Objectives and Scope of the Study

The basic objectives of the present study are:
i) To highlight the beginning of library with the birth of human civilization;
ii) To assess briefly the scenario of the movement in India;
iii) To trace the historical account of the library development and movement in Manipur;
iv) To understand the agencies contributing towards the movement and development of the library;and
v) To outline a yardstick for the enhancement of the movement in the state.

The general scope of the study, on the other hand , has been limited to the public library movement and its development that have taken place since last about 90 years in the state.

5. Historical Perspective on Library Movement and Development

With the entry into the second half decade of the 21st Century, Manipur, a tiny border state of India has also stepped into the almost 90 (ninety) years of its library movement and development. Many ups and downs mobility in this very important aspect of human society have been witnessed during the period. During the last 90 years there have been many contributory efforts from different angles for the cause of the movement.

In fact, as done in other parts of the world, the public library movement in this small state also started as a result of the people's movement, the efforts of the Government was made in the later stage. The public library movement was started in the state from the side of individuals, voluntary organizations, philanthropists, etc. The initiative of the Government in this regards came a bit late. The following sections of the paper are a narration of the story, highlighting the experience of the last about 90 years in the state, in this regard.

The very idea of the library movement in this part of the country was conceived in the year 1927 with the establishment of Manipur Club, mainly to provide public library services by Dr. H. Atulchandra Singh, a Philanthropist, a great social reformer, indeed a multifaceted person of the 20th Century. While Manipuris, not only in the state, but also those in different parts of the world particularly in South East Asian Region are celebrating September as the Jananeta Irawat Month we are also observing the 10th September every year , the birth day of Atulchandra as Manipur Library Day.

The great philanthropist was born on the 10th September, 1897 at Kakwa Nameirakpam Leikai , an outskirt of about 5 Km from Imphal along the Indo-Myanmar Road ( NH-39). As a social reformer characterized by multifaceted nature Atulchandra contributed a lot for the welfare of the people of the state. His pioneering efforts since mid 1920s are too many to mention.

He launched free Homeopathic Treatment, established a number of Schools including Politechnics, Vocational Training Centres, popularized Hindi and Sanskrit Education, Games and Sports, took initiatives in Theatre and Cooperative movement, etc. in the soil of the land. He was a real pioneer of the public library movement of the state.

To be continued......


* Ch. Ibohal Singh, Ph.D., wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was posted on October 17, 2016.


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