April 23 is WORLD BOOK DAY

PANJIM: On World Book Day (April 23), a new book just published here notes that Goa’s public library is among the oldest across India. It was set up way back in 1832, even before Calcutta and other cities had public libraries.

It is also well known that Goa had the first Gutenberg-type printing press in the whole of Asia. Private libraries, municipal libraries, and other initiatives have taken the book to the reader in Goa, suggests this book, which is authored by Maria Pia de Menezes Rodrigues, former Curator of the State Central Library Goa.

It reminds us that the library can play the role of being a “people’s university”, and that libraries have been in India, in various shapes and forms, since the Indus Valley Civilisation, and during the British Raj.
Post-Independence, special efforts were made to promote the spread of libraries.

In Goa itself, besides initiatives in the colonial state capital, there were municipal libraries running out of Mapusa, Salcete, Ponda, Panjim, and elsewhere.

A string of private libraries were started around the early 20th century, some of which like the Saraswati Mandir Library in Panjim, and the Gomant Vidya Niketan Library, Margao, continue to function even today.

But much remains to be done to spread the libraries effectively to serve all areas of Goa, specially rural Goa.

Goa’s Publica Livraria, as the institution was first known, has changed and morphed much during its 18 decades of existence. It now has plush new premises at Pato, at the entrance to the Goan State capital.

This 160-page book documents the changes over time of the institution now known as the Krishnadas Shama State Central Library.

This book also includes 14 pages of photographs of various other libraries today — including Mahalaxmi (Mala), Sharada Mandir’s, Livraria Confidant (Margao), NIO, Saraswati Mandir, Kala Academy, DMC Library (Assagao), the
Archbishop’s Archives, and Bookworm (Taleigao).

The photos, with an essay appreciated the importance of the book, are by Gabriella D’Cruz, a young student. The 160-page book is priced at Rs 200 and available at Confidant (Margao) and other outlets.

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