It is beyond controversy that the libraries are for the benefit of the people at large. They have to produce better citizens happier people and finally a better society. This belief has of and on been asserted in more detail by intellectuals. The libraries furnish informations on all subjects, provide the means of self-education, stimulate continuous education to help men and women to participate intelligently in democratic society and give an opportunity of reading for pleasure. If we were to look back to hundred years, we would find, these ideas quite unknown to that age, but in the modern age, library, public or private, is an essential part of the educational resources of a nation. It has grown with the schools and the colleges, and share with them the onerous responsibility for helping to maintain and to promote our heritage democratic freedom and opportunity.
Classification of libraries
Libraries can be classified into five groups. Firstly, there are national libraries, the main purpose of which is to collect and preserve books and other printed matter produced by the country. To help them in their great and extensive task, they are often given the privilege of legal deposit. Such libraries are used for references and research works. They also manage to secure from other libraries for their readers, literature which they do not have in possession. Secondly, there are academic libraries. They include university, college and school libraries. These libraries aim at cultivating a reading habit in the students in general. Thirdly, there are special libraries which deal with specific subjects for the benefit of special readers. Libraries of industrial firms, Government research organisations and professional bodies come under this group. Fourthly, there are public libraries which aim at providing every member of the community with books to suit his need. These libraries are expected to give due consideration to books which make citizens Happier, better and more informed because the money that finance libraries is public money collected from the community in the shape of library tax. Fifthly, there are private libraries which are owned and looked after by intellectuals and are housed in residential houses of such educated citizens. Sometimes, such libraries acquire a great magnitude and importance when they are owned by a talented intellectual. The late Dr. A. N. Jha donated his private library to the Allahabad University which had to construct a separate building to house it. Borrowed books are short lived companions as they give only a temporary joy. Reading of books is a pleasure but to we them a bliss.
The importance of private libraries
Book have a great place in life. They are our reliable and abiding companions in the pilgrim age of life. The friends of the flesh are parted from us but books seldom desert us. They give us both light and delight. There is a treasure which cannot be exhausted. The treasure lies before us, we have only to knock at the door. Hence we should make all possible efforts to collect books of our own choice with a view to make a good private library. Some people say that they would read as gladly the library copy of a book as their own. A true seeker of knowledge loves the wisdom contained in books and not their materiel possession. So a private library is a luxury. I, personally, do not subscribe to such a viewpoint. Great books do not yield their secret at the first reading and you cannot have them in your possession whenever you are in mood to read them. Those who read for pleasure or for knowledge must have books on their selves. A writer or professor without his own book is a soldier without his gun, a workman with out his tools. In a moment, one can hunt up a reference in one’s own copy while even an hour in turning over pages of a borrowed copy may yield no fruit. Personal collection of books often provide material for biographies and autobiographies. Few things give more conclusive and intimate knowledge of a man’s character and views then an hour in his library. How curious a student of literature is to know what books Dickens or Shaw possessed and read. Again the understanding of Gandhiji’s or Pandit Nehru’s mental background is clear when we know what authors they read and loved to read.
Never lend a book
Private libraries are fountain head of boundless joy. But you have to guard this joy carefully. You have to by thoroughly selfish in this respect. Beware of showing your treasure to others. Remember “those who lend books are fools and they are greater ones who return them.” People may think many a time be fore asking for a loan of money but they do not hesitate a moment to borrow a book. Trust a friend with money but not with books.
Conclusion-Libraries and Democracy
The growth of democracy depends upon the enlightened citizens. Libraries play an admirable role in changing ignorant persons into enlightened human beings. So libraries of all types should be increased and encouraged. It is alarming and shocking to see that persons, educated and well to-do, these days spent money on clothes, furniture crockery and other such articles and not on books. Teachers, in general, have cultivated a sense of indifference towards books. It is really a pitiable spectable that a teacher sitting on an arm-chair and stretching his legs on another is discussing a sex-publication with his counter parts in his vacant periods and not devoting his time or reading or writing. Teachers and leaders have to elevate themselves through books if they intend to elevate the nation. A study of world history and civilization has revealed that libraries in some form of other existed in all ages as a part of social fabric. They flourished and dwindled with the rise and fall of a nation’s culture grandeur. The oldest library known to history was in the ancient city of Tello in Sumeria in 2700 B. C., which had a collection of 30 thousand books in the form of clay tables. Another famous ancient library was in Alexandria (Egypt) in the third century B. C. In ancient India, the renowned Nalanda University in the 5th century A.D., maintained a very big library housed in three splendid buildings one of which was a nine-storeyed one. The National Liberty of the U. S. S. R. at Moscow, known as Lenin State Library, founded in 1962 is housed in a splendid 8 storey building and possesses 22 million books, periodicals, annual sets of newspapers and other publications in as many as 173 languages.