Library movement in Manipur

Kangabam Diviya Devi *

A collection of old Manipuri Literature from (L) Oja Ningthoukhongjam Khelchandra Singh Library
A collection of old Manipuri Literature from (L) Oja Ningthoukhongjam Khelchandra Singh Library :: Pix - Donny Meisnam

It is very interesting as well as heartening to know that library movement in Manipur started from the beginning of 20th century and there was record of maintaining manuscripts in royal palace from the 17th century.

During the kingship of Manipur, astrologers, priests and other scholars used to come to the palace for reading books and academic discussion. It resembles like the present library. Places of worship and personal premises were also used as libraries. At this point, the following lines from Encyclopedia of Britannica are worth mentioning.

In the early days, there were no such difference between a library and a record room and because of which it could be considered that library was present since the record room came into existence.


The office of the political agent in Manipur was established in the year 1835. The agency office started having its own library since establishment. The existing library and records section at Manipur Secretariat is in continuation of the library of political agency of Manipur. However, this is not for public use but only for government officers.


Many unknown facts about libraries have come to light from seeing the age old records brought out by pioneers in the field of library science. The first printed text book for school going children was brought out in 1900.

It is "The Manipur Primer Pt.1", and it was printed at Calcutta in the Baptist Mission Press. Following the trend of the publication of school text, a number of books were published before 1920.

Then all copies were stocked under an official register of the schools. It can be proved that library movement in Manipur came into existence as early as 1900. The modern library movement was started by the Manipur Library Association since 25th May, 1987.


The first library came up in Johnstone School and Mr. Tonu Singh was appointed as Deputy Inspector of Schools to take charge of this responsibility. According to an available record, a person named "Gokulchand Singh was serving as librarian".


On 20th February 1929, the Royal Court decided to set up and operate a state library. As per this decision, a rule was framed and accordingly all the books in Johnstone School got shifted to the education office. From then onwards, it came to be known as Manipur State Library.


The first ever government college library came into being in Manipur in the year 1946 in D.M. College. One Md. Reajuddin Choudhury was appointed as its first librarian in the year 1952. From 1970s, many persons had been trained in library science.

Today, every district of Manipur has a full fledged library run under the sponsorship of Government of Manipur.

* Kangabam Diviya Devi wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
The writer is from Add: Bishnupur Ward No. 4 and studies at MEM Higher Secondary School, Airport Road at Class-XI, Sec-A, Roll No.-1
This article was posted on October 10, 2013.

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