Water leakage damages new books in National Library

Kolkata: Collection of new books and periodicals from India at the Bhasa Bhawan (House of Languages) in the National Library here, the largest library in the country, had to be urgently evacuated following inundation due to water leakage from an air conditioning plant, an official said on Wednesday. The National Library Staff Association blamed the Central Public Works Department for "negligence in maintenance". "When the library was opened the day before yesterday (Monday) at 8.30 a.m., we saw ankle-deep water. Flooding was in part, due to leakage in the rain pipe while the major part of the water leaked from the AC plant. Responsibility for maintenance is with CPWD and we pay them regularly. It happened in the Indian languages division," staff association secretary Saibal Chakraborty Said. He said cataloguing and processing of new books such as those in Assamese were going on. "Books and periodicals were kept on the floor while being processed. These are new books and for us each and every book is valuable. I can't say how many books were damaged but we are restoring them by drying them out," he said. He further said: "CPWD negligence is not good. It was fortunate that this was a weekday and rare books and manuscripts (stored in other sections) escaped damage." National Library Director Arun Kumar Chakraborty said that the CPWD had been informed about the problem. The Library is an institution of national importance under the Ministry of Culture and has it roots in the Calcutta Public Library which was set up in 1836.