ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Which Way for Public Libraries in India?

The public library has a significant role to play in the development of intellectual and political well-being of a democracy, but is poorly equipped to play a transformative role as it has been neglected by the state governments. Now that there is willingness to invest significant funds in building public libraries, it is important to revisit seemingly taken-for-granted assumptions of how we are to invest in this important institutional pillar of nation building.

Public libraries, a long forgotten subject in the national imagination, have in recent times received some significant attention from the State.

In what was perhaps a first time mention by the head of government, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his inaugural speech for the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) in August 2005, acknowledged that public libraries are an “extremely important element of the foundation of a knowledge economy”. In pursuance of the NKC’s recommendations, the centre had in fact set up a high powered committee called the National Mission on Libraries (NML) to take its agenda forward.

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