The famous Esplanade reading lounge of the National Library, popularly known as newspaper reading room of the library, is being resurrected in a new avatar as its city hub with state-of-the art IT interface to attract the younger generation to reading and the world of books.
“We are planning to resume its full-fledged service in September and are trying to arrange some funds from the National Mission of the Library (NML). The unit will generally provide newspapers and periodical-based support to people in general and young adults in particular. It will be equipped with the best possible information and communication technology (ICT) based support to the readers,” said National Library director general Ajay Prasad Singh.
The Esplanade East Row building briefly housed the National Library after shifting it from Metcalfe Hall (then Imperial Library) before it was relocated to its current address at Belvedere House. Even after the entire library was shifted to Belvedere House, the newspaper and periodical section remained at Esplanade East Row. Finally, only the newspaper section operated till 2004, when that section too was shifted to Bhasa Bhawan at Belvedere House.
“It was an amazing place. Almost all the newspapers of India and those from abroad used to come there. I used to drop in to read foreign newspapers. In those days, many famous people used to drop in. I saw Radha Prasad Gupta and Satyajit Ray among the readers in the ’80s quite frequently,” recollected Bidhu Bhushan Chakraborty, a bibliophile and researcher.
Apart from reviving the Esplanade facility, the National Library is set to hold an exhibition of its exquisite collection of lithographic paintings for the first time in Kolkata. “The lithographic collection of the National Library was enriched by the personal collection of Sir Asutosh Mukherjee, which was later donated to the National Library by his family. The paintings took us back to the quaint city of the early Raj era. People will get a glimpse of some wonderful structures which are no more,” said Singh.
“The existing children section of the National Library is also going to be changed thoroughly for transforming it into a vibrant creative centre exclusively for the children so that they can inculcate the reading habits among them as well as to make them innovative and self-reliant,” said Singh.
Source: Times of India