TODAY -

Library movement and development in Manipur
- Part 4 -

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



10. Role of Library Associations

The need for an organization to lead the library movement in a more systematic manner in the state has been long felt. But because of want of professionals in the field the real library movement with the support of the people could not be materialized for a long time.

The 26th May, 1975 was a remarkable day in the history of the formation of Library Association in the state. On that day, the Manipur Library Association(MALA) was born with Shri M. Anandamohon Singh (then Chief Librarian of the State Central Library, Imphal), Shri R.K. Dave (then Deputy Librarian of the erstwhile Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Post Graduate Studies, presently Manipur University) and Shri Ch. Radheshyam Singh (Retired Librarian of Manipur University) as its President, Secretary and Treasurer respectively.

However, due to lack of professionals, support of the public, etc led to non-functional of the same. Later, after a gap of 12 years the present Manipur Library Association (MALA) came into being only on the 24th May, 1987 with Shri N. Giridhari Singh, Shri K. Chaoba Singh and Shri Th. Khomdon Singh as its founding President, General Secretary and Treasurer respectively. After the emergence of MALA with the support of the public, the momentum for the library movement in the state has been in increase taking a new shape.

Seminars, Conferences, Workshops, Awareness Programmes, Training courses, Library Day Celebrations, World Book and Copyright Day Celebrations, National Library Week Celebrations, Year of Book Celebrartions, etc, organized by the Association in the last 24 years could change the mindset of the people of the state becoming them aware of the need and importance of library in the society. Besides publishing more than 20 (twenty) books so far, MALA has also been publishing a journal entitled "Librarygee Ehou" (Library Movement), which plays an important role in the library movement in the state. Another publication "MALA Newsletter" is being launched very shortly on monthly basis for free circulation among its members.

Other National Level Library Associations also contributed towards the enhancement of the process of library movement in the state. A Manipur chapter of the Indian Public Library Association (IPLA) was formed during 1996-97 with Dr. Th. Khomdon Singh and Shri N. Inaocha Singh as its President and Secretary respectively. However, the same became non-functional without much activity.

Recently in June, 2007 the North East Chapter of the Ranganathan Society for Book Culture, Library and Informatics Studies (RAS), Head Quarters, Lucknow was formed in the state to carry out different activities at national level. Dr. N. Giridhari Singh, Dr. Ch. Ibohal Singh and Shri N. Inaocha Singh are its President, Secretary and Treasurer respectively.

The Chapter in collaboration with Prof. Kaula Endowment for Library and Information Science,Tenali, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur Library Association, State Central Library, Imphal, Department of Art and Culture, Government of Manipur, Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Government of Manipur, and Manipur Foundation, Imphal, successfully organized the third National Seminar and Convention of RAS at Imphal during 8-10 September, 2007 synchronizing with the Centenary Celebration of Indian Library Movement and 115th Birth anniversary of Dr. S.R. Ranganathan and Eighty Years of Public Library Movement in Manipur alongwith 110th Birth anniversary of Dr. H. Atulchandra Singh.

During 12th and 13th March, 2008 also RAS conducted a National Seminar on Development and Challenges of Library and Information Services. In the years to come, the Chapter is expecting to carry out different library programmes in the region.

IASLIC has also been associating with MALA in carrying some activities in the State since last about 4 years when Dr. Th. Khomdon Singh, present Librarian, Manipur University was its Governing Body member. The joint activities are continuing today also. Presently, Dr.Ch.Ibohal Singh, Assistant Professor, Department of Library and Information Science, Manipur University and General Secretary of MALA is one of the members of the IASLIC Governing Body.

11. Legislative Support in Library Movement

The public library movement received impetus by enactment of library legislation in different states of India. Such acts aim at ensuring perennial funding support for public libraries, defining stricture of public library system in the state, powers and functions of library authorities and such other matters relating to the public libraries. As the library movement has speedily been progressed the need to have a sound legislation has also been felt for an effective public library system through movement in Manipur. Shri Y. Erabot Singh, then Education Minister of the State took initiative on behalf of MALA concerning moving of a Private Member's Resolution on the Manipur Public Libraries Bill, 1988 [2]on the 26th July, 1988 on the floor of the House.

As a member of the Business Advisory Committee of the then Assembly Dr. M.Nara Singh, MLA also tried his level best to put up the Bill in the agenda list of the House for discussion. The Bill was passed on the 1st August, 1988 by the Assembly as Manipur Bill No.14 of 1988. There were many controversies over the Bill when the same was sent to the President of India for necessary approval which was duly corrected. With due efforts of MALA, the Bill was given Assent by the then President of India, Dr. Sankar Dayal Sharma on the 9th June, 1993.

The Manipur Gazette published it on the 17th June, 1993 as The Manipur Public Libraries Act, 1988 (Manipur Act No.7 of 1993). The Association also organized a Seminar on Manipur Public Libraries Act: Rules and Regulations on the 12th August, 1993. As an outcome and as the follow-up action of the event the State Cabinet in its meeting held on the 1st July, 1996 approved the Rules of the Act and the same was published in the Manipur Gazette (No. 267 dated the 12th September, 1996) as the Manipur Public Libraries Rules, 1996.

MALA, as such has been very much instrumental in the state towards having a Public Libraries Act. The state thus could become the sixth state in the country after West Bengal having such an Act. The same has partially been started its implementation since 1st October, 2002 while Dr. M. Nara Singh was the Minister of Art & Culture of the State. However, implementation of the Act in its true spirit is the need of the hour.

Another aspect on the legislative support of the public library may be mentioned of the Bill passed by the Manipur Legislative Assembly concerning the taking over of the management of the Manipur Public Library ( Bill No.11 of 2015 " THE MANIPUR PUBLIC LIBRARY (TAKING OVER OF MANAGEMENT) BILL, 2015" introduced by Shri Okram Ibobi Singh, honb'le Chief Minister on the floor of the House on 3rd July and passed on 8th July, 2015.

The Manipur Public Library was established in 1948 by some social workers of Manipur by constituting a Committee known as Manipur Public Library Committee with Shri N. Gopal Singh as founder Secretary. It was constructed just behind the MG Memorial Hall, Imphal, on the land given by the Manipur State Council vide its Resolution No. 27of 04/02/1948.

It is a public property but mismanagement of the property has been observed by the public and government as well since a long time. The library was not functioning for a longer time curtailing the opportunity of the general public to access to the library and knowledge thereby defeating the very purpose for which it was established.

That is why the state government has decided to take over the management of the library in the interest of the general public and one or more officers is being appointed to look after the library to serve the public. This is a good initiative of the government of the state.

To be continued......


* Ch. Ibohal Singh, Ph.D., wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was posted on October 26, 2016.


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