Thursday 22 August 2013

The City of libraries

Bangalore is called by many synonyms such as Garden City, Pensioners Paradise, Silicon City and Public Sector City. However, there is one nomenclature that has escaped the attention of people. Bangalore is home to some of the best and oldest libraries in this part of India and yet many of such centres of excellence remain either unknown or ignored.
Bangalore once had the highest number of circulating libraries, private libraries and public libraries in Karnataka. However, the 1980s saw the slow decline in readership and libraries slowly gave way to Internet and other modes of communication.
Today, libraries are generally associated with students and it is rare for a library to break new ground and make a name for itself. Of course, there are exceptions such as the British Council Library but they are far and few.
Today, the public libraries in Bangalore and there are about 20 of them are fairly well-stocked with a variety of books but they sadly have fallen behind private, corporate and scientific and industrial libraries.
Yes, very few know that one of the first industrial libraries in India came up at HAL and ITI campus. Sadly, they too have fallen prey to the vicissitudes of time and they are a sad reminder of the days gone by.
Yet, Bangalore should take heart as it still has some of the best known libraries in the State and even in the nation. One of the most well-known and exhaustive libraries in the scientific community is  the one at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Malleswaram.
The IISc library, now renamed as JRD Tata, was established in 1911 and since then it has gone on to make a name for itself. The library offers a variety of services and it has some of the finest books on science and technology.
The main library has more than 1.88 lakhs books and monograms, 2.25 lakh bound books, reports, e-journals, patents and what not. lakhs bound books. This is in addition to the libraries maintained by each department.
The National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) at Mathikere has a comprehensive collection of books. The collection includes more than 14,000 books, 54 print journals, 1,680 online journals and 1,847 back volumes of journals.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research at Jakkur also has a well heeled library.
The library at Bangalore Medical College near City Market has the largest collection of books and periodicals on medicine. It has more than 35,000 books and it is spread over two floors.   
Another library, which is a researcher’s delight is the Mythic Society on Nruputunga Road. It has an excellent collection of over 40,000 books, periodicals, magazines and paintings. The library was founded in 1909.
The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) on Hsour Road has a library established in 1954. It  subscribes to over 1500 e-Journals in addition to over 350 national and international print journals in the field of mental health. Its library includes 35,000 books and 40,000 back volumes of journals, thesis and dissertations, research reports.
The library at the Indian Institute of World Culture located on B.P. Wadia Road in Basavanagudi has more than 40,000 books and most of them are classics in English and Kannada. It was founded in 1945.
The main library of Bangalore University is located at its Jnana Bharati campus on Mysore Road. It was established in 1966 and it possesses 1.5 lakhs books for circulation, 35,000 reference and text books. Another library of the university is in the Central College Campus which was set up in 1858.
The UVCE (engineering college) library at K.R. Circle has over two lakhs books covering various branches of  mathematics, science and engineering. Along with the main library, each department has its own library.
The UAS library has 1.52 lakhs books, 11,000 pamphlets, 10,000 theses, 17,000 reports at its GKVK campus. It also operates college libraries in Shimoga, Chintamani, Mudigere, Mandya and Ponnampet.
The Indian Institute of Horticulture Research, Hesarghatta, has 27,139 documents, 10,279 books, 14,169 back volumes of journals, 95 theses and dissertations, 1031 reports, 214 proceedings and 1361 bulletins. It subscribes to 87 foreign journals, out of which 21 journals have online access, 120 Indian journals, 33 Advances, Methods and Annual Reviews. A special collection of Acta Horticulturae, published by the International Society of Horticultural Science Belgium, is the unique resource in the Library.
The Institute of Social and Economic Change has named its library after Dr. V K R V Rao. It is considered to be  one of the major social science resources in India and it has a vast collection of over  1,21,000 documents including books, bound back-volumes of journals, reports. It also has 250 theses, 300 current print journals and E-Journals in various subjects. It is recongnised by the World Bank as a depository library.
The University law College, which is ranked among the best law colleges in India, has one of the best law libraries with a collection of 45,000 books, 16,000 journals and 18,000 reference books. The national Law College, which is rated the best institution of its kind in India, has the Narayan Rao and Melgiri Memorial National Law Library at its campus in Nagarbhavi. It has an extensive and scholarly collection of over 40,000 bound volumes in addition to periodical holdings.
The Melgiri Library was inaugurated by the then Chief Justice of India R.C. Lahoti on August 27, 2005.
The library at the sprawling campus of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bannerghatta Road, is housed in an independent building of 55,000 square feet spread across four floors.
It has 2.35 lakh books, back volumes of journals, government publications, technical reports, conference proceedings, non-book materials apart from 72 e-resources and 884 e-books from Elsevier Science and Cambridge University press.
The library subscribes to 2330 print and e-journals and 27 newspapers. Apart from this, more than 35,000 full text journal titles are available in the databases subscribed to by the library. It also receives around 200 newsletters and has 2200 annual reports from public and private organisations.
The library of Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) is more than two hundred years old. It has a vast repertoire of  books and periodicals on astronomy, journals and catalogues. Today, it has the distinction of  having the largest collection in Astronomy in the country.
The library at Raman Research Institute (RRI) was started by Sri C.V. Raman.  Its collection centres mainly on astronomy and astrophysics, theoretical physics, optics and liquid crystals.
The Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) on New BEL Road has one of the best libraries in India in the field of electrical power engineering. It has more than 30,000 books.
The library has 19,000 books and it covers topics such as   observational astronomy, theoretical physics and astrophysics and back volumes of many core journals from Vol.1.
The Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore centre, is among the three important centres of ISI in India. The library here was established in 1976 and it has one of the best collection on Statistics, Mathematics, Quality Engineering/ Management and Library and  Information Science in India.
The library subscribes to 300 international journals on various subjects. There are about 24,000  books and reference materials, , directories, encyclopedias, CDs.
The M.H. Marigowda Library in Lalbagh is home to several rare botanical books and magazines. It contains more than 1,000 original artworks of which 700 are watercolors, 300 pencil drawings and 12 are in ink.
 Another little known library is the Central Forest Library which is on the ground floor of Aranya Bhavan in Malleswaram. It came into being on April 24, 1984  and it stacks books, bound volumes of periodicals, technical reports, working Plans, reports, lecture notes, videotapes, CD ROMs and manuals on several aspects of forestry and wildlife.
The library on the premises of the Karnataka High court is one of the best in India and it has an original copy of the Constitution of India. This book is signed by all the members of the Constituent Assembly.
The library also has many judgments and almost all varieties of books, journals and texts on law and jurisprudence. It also has some old judgments.  
Exactly opposite the High Court is the Vidhana Soudha and the Secretariat Library housed in the majestic building has a vast collection of 1.28 lakhs books, gazettees, orders and reports of commissions.
The Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs, Bull Temple Road, Basavanagudi, also has a well-stocked library. 
Another little known library is located within the campus of the Madras Engineering Group or MEG in Ulsoor. It has a well-stocked library with several thousand books, many of them on Bangalore and its history. The library contains a record of all previous commandants’ activities, the various wars the Thambis  was involved in and even social work it has been involved with.
There is also a book in the MEG that has a record of the articles displayed and the achievements of the Thambis. The book is priced at Rs. 1,000.
The British Council library is now on Kasturba Road after it was shifted from its earlier location on St. Mark’s Road several years ago. It is a favourite among bibliophiles and it has well-stocked shelves on several topics.
The king among all libraries in Bangalore is obviously the State Central Library which is housed in Seshadri Iyer Memorial Hall in Cubbon Park. Established in 1915, it is rated as among the best and largest reference libraries in India. It houses 2.5 lakh books, including some 6,000 old and rare volumes and periodicals.
The Indira Gandhi Children’s Library, a unit run by the State Central Library directly, has 6,804 books and 127 charts and maps. It also has 212 playing equipments for children as well.
Apart from these libraries, several localities such as Jayanagar, Malleswaram, Rajajinagar have their own public libraries. The BBMP too has set up libraries in a number of wards.
However, the public libraries have not been able to compete with the private libraries and today Bangalore has a large network of private libraries and some of them such as Eloor on Infantry Road and Esaylib in Koramangala have become household names.

Many scientific and research institutions in Bangalore such as ISRO, NAL have libraries but they are generally not open to the public. Educational institutions in Bangalore have well-stocked libraries but outsiders are to allowed to use the facility and they are limited to students and staff.

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