District Magistrate of Jamtara Jharkhand is converting old, dilapidated buildings into libraries
One important reason for our rural areas to be backward in the field of education is the absence of access to libraries. Therefore, the sooner we promote our libraries in the country with our loyalty and vigilance, the sooner we will be able to win our glory in the field of knowledge.
Every district has many big and small buildings which were constructed for some purpose but never put to use due to various reasons , also there are large number of buildings that have been abandoned.
Mr. Faiz Aq Ahmed Mumtaz, District Magistrate, Jamtara, Jharkhand, has launched a unique initiative to promote libraries in the district. He is on a long drawn out mission of converting dilapidated buildings in the village panchayats to community libraries with a dual goal of saving these abandoned buildings and also making available good books and space to the village communities.Appointed as DM of Jamtara in July this year, Mr. Mumtaz is in the process of bringing about a much needed change in this backward district. He aims to build 30 such community libraries by the end of the year; And finally there are a total of 118 libraries in each gram panchayat of the district.
This initiative has been more than three months, according to Mr Mumtaz in connection with organizing a Janata Durbar, he went to the Chengadih Panchayat. Meanwhile, someone pointed towards the backwardness of standard education in the panchayat and difficulty in travelling to the markets for basic books. After hearing this, he thought of doing something meaningful in this direction. In every gram panchayat of Jamtara, there are some government buildings which are not in use or in a state of absence. Therefore, he started renovating these buildings to community libraries in each panchayats of the district. The first library came up at chengaidih panchayat and the library was constructed out of an old abandoned building, with contributions coming from Convergence of Government Schemes, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the general public.
Since then sixteen libraries have been contructed and inaugurated at sixteen panchayats covering all six blocks of the district. Fourteen more libraries are at their final stages of readiness and will most likely be inaugurated before 15th of January and after evaluating it’s success , there are plans to build 118 libraries in all panchayats in the same manner. In the early days, his plan was to build only a couple of libraries, but considering the enthusiasm of the people, he thought of expanding his scope. He thought, that in the district, reading and education should be given more importance and a library culture should be developed and promoted with community participation , he wants to create a culture of reading and study among the youth by holding different types of inter library compititions . The libraries will also benefit students whose studies were affected by the Covid19 pandimic.
This initiative had two objectives. The first is the revival of dilapidated buildings and the second to develop the library facilities at the community level. Where students can sit and read easily. He believes that the library can play an important role in the development of any community.
Apart from this to make commendable effort more successful he entrusted the responsibility of maintenance of library and its security to local communities. When and for how long to open it depends entirely on them. Librarian, the president of the library and the treasurer are being selected from among the locals who provide purely volunteer service .In addition, bank account has been opened for each community library where contributions from the public will be collected. Provisions are also made for purchasing books, paying bills and upgrading the library from time to time. After the library is built and commissioned, it is handed over to the community.
The availability of books in these libraries is being ensured under public participation. Where modest expenditure is required, resources are being mobilized by convergence of different departments. For example, PHD is providing tap facilities, then the electricity department provides electricity the bills will be borne by the local community . At the same time, resources like tables, cupboards are being raised from CSR funds. Books through donations and contributions.
This initiative of IAS Mr. Faiz Aq Ahmed in Jamtara is getting very good response with people feeling a sense of ownership and responsibility to it.
Bihari Mandal, a railwayman from Jamtara says, Ever since I heard about this initiative of Faiz Sir, I have been contributing to build a library in the district ever since. This is an initiative that will develop a competitive environment here, which is better for the future of our children. At the same time, Ashraf Ali of Chengadih says, I am graduating in Hindi from a local college. There is not much learning environment in our village. But, ever since the library is built here, there has been a new energy flow among the students.
As most people in these gram panchayats are visiting such a library for the first time in their lives, there is a feeling of excitement among them. All officers at the District and Block level have been asked to spend at least one hour each month in at least one library, so that library culture can be promoted in Jamtara. Administration has already been noticing a great deal of positive environment in the villages where these libraries are already functional.