Gram Panchayat Library and Information Centre
Revitalisation of rural public libraries is a flagship programme of the department of Rural Development & Panchayat Raj (RDPR). The Karnataka Public Libraries Act, 1965 came into force in 1966 and subsequently the Department of Public Libraries established a public libraries network at the state, district, city, and Gram Panchayat levels. In 2019, 5623 of these rural libraries were transferred to the RDPR department for their overall management. This transfer enabled local oversight of the rural public libraries at the Gram Panchayat level.
Bridging the learning gap during covid
Covid-19 disrupted the education system resulting in closure of schools and colleges. Children faced learning loss and had anxiety that could have profound effects on their wellbeing in the long run. Seeing the effective performance of Gram Panchayats in spreading awareness and relief response during the first wave, it was felt that gram panchayats could play an important role in addressing the challenges of education encountered. Revival of rural public libraries was taken up for immediate and sustained interventions, to manage the pandemic-related unfinished learning.
Collective efforts and participatory approach from all stakeholders
A donation drive was taken up. Civil society organisations readily came forward. A ‘Pustaka Jolige’ an initiative to sow the seeds of a public library movement was launched, with slogan: Naavu nimma mane bagilige, nimma ondu pustaka namma joligege (We are coming to your doorstep; please give us one book for our knapsack). Civil society organizations readily came forward and many individuals also contributed. Even milk cooperatives joined hands with GPs. Rural libraries received 1.1 million books in donation, 1.5 million children (6-18 years) enrolled for free adding to the regular library memberships.
Revival and re energization of rural public library spaces
Rural libraries were taken up for revival in phases. Many GPs were given new spaces, and some got new buildings. Most libraries received electrical connections, book racks, furniture, reading rooms or balconies, study desks for students, armchairs, and garden benches for seniors.
Rural public libraries have become citizen and child-centric by offering a variety of relevant reading products and services (such as science kits, career guidance for children), and the physical space has been re-energized/reorganized to make it attractive for citizens to use. Many gram panchayats innovatively came up with different ways of re energisation of library spaces. Ex. In Dakshina Kannada, Pustaka Goodu concept was adopted.
To create an identity for the rural library as a permanent resource centre, the rural public libraries have been repositioned as Gram Panchayat Library and Information Centres. It was made mandatory to keep the Indian Constitution in all rural libraries. Annual reports, important publications of Government on schemes/services, link documents providing information on financial devolution to the Gram Panchayats, etc are being added to the libraries. Access to information is the bedrock of democracy. These rural public libraries can serve as an important force for local community development and empowerment and can play a significant role in economic and social development of rural communities. The ownership, interest, and responsiveness at the level of local government has enabled the community to engage proactively in learning and developing their knowledge.
Local initiatives are spreading the magic of public libraries across rural Karnataka - Smt. Uma Mahadevan Dasgupta IAS
The public library is a portal to a better future - Smt. Uma Mahadevan Dasgupta IAS
Revival of Rural Libraries, RDPR Dept. Govt of Karnataka
Gram Panchayat Libraries- Karnataka @GramKarnataka
Energising the Gram Panchayat Library space through STE(A)M-Ed