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Assam Library Association (ALA)

1. Introduction: The Assam Library Association (Sadau Assam Puthibharal Sangha) was started in the year 1938 mainly by the personal enthusiasm of Shri Kumudeswar Borthakur (1893-1966), a man who devoted his life for the growth and development of libraries in Assam. He was fully assisted in the matter of public library services by Lokapriya Gopinath Bardoloi and other political and social workers. By establishing ALA, Assam became the 8th state in India in establishing state level library association. After the executive meeting held on 16th July 1972, ALA became inactive till 1996. However, on 22nd February, 1997 it got revived with a full-fledged executive council and presently functioning in full swing.

2. Organization: The General Body from among the members by ballot or by the process the general body decides select the Office bearers of the association in the meeting except the President. The tenure of office of the office-bearers and the Executive Committee will ordinarily be two years.

ALA is having the provision of Ordinary Member, Institutional / Association Member, Life Member, Donor, Patron and Honorary Member.

3. Aims and Objectives: The aims and objectives of the ALA are
i) To promote library movement in the State of Assam and for that purpose to organize and to do public relation work;
ii) To hold meetings, conferences, seminars and to organize book festivals and book exhibitions for the development and propagation of ideas on Library Science and Library Service;
iii) To promote the formation of district, sub sub-divisional and other local Library Associations and to affiliate them to itself;
iv) To promote the establishment of libraries in the urban and rural areas of the State;
v) To give advice and assistance -technical or financial to all interested in the establishment and development of libraries and extension of library service;
vi) To encourage and help better utilization of the existing library facilities;
vii) To work for the promotion of legislation conducive to or necessary for the establishment, development, maintenance, regulation and management of the public library system and of the other library systems in the States;
viii) To promote library science education and conduct training courses at the semi-professional level (Certificate in Library Science).
ix) To promote publication of bibliographical tools;
xi) To raise and accept grants, subsidies, gifts and endowments etc for the furtherance of the aims and objectives of the Association;
xii) To acquire, by purchase, lease or otherwise, all kinds of property, movable and immovable, and to construct and maintain buildings thereon for the purposes of the Association and to improve, develop, manage, sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise deal with all or any part of the properties of the
xiii) To borrow and raise money as deemed fit and to invest the money of the Association, not immediately required, in such manner as may from time to time be determined by the Executive Committee of the Association.
xiv) To collect funds for the Association by way of membership fees, donations, contribution etc.
xv) To enter into any arrangement with Government, local or other authorities and bodies which may seem conducive to the furtherance of all or any of the aims and objectives of the association and to obtain from such sources any rights, privileges, assistance and concessions which may be deemed fit or desirable by the Association; and
xvi) To do all such other things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of the above mentioned aims and objectives.

4. Functions and Activities: The Association has been performing the following functions and activities

a) Making People Aware: After the birth of ALA an attempt was made for a wide publicity of the library movement through different avenues like Bihu festivals, public meeting, advertisement through the screen of Kelvin Cinema, Guwahati etc. With the help of daily newspapers and using the market places people were sought to be made aware of the library movement. Children were encouraged to demand books from their parents on the occasion of their birthday or as reward for good performance in examination. The lower income groups of people were approached for small contribution through “mustibhiksha”, which was a unique way of collecting handful of grains and the money thus collected from the sale of the grains was to be spent on libraries.

b) Organization of Rural Libraries: In the 1st conference of Assam Library Association in 1938 hardly 50 libraries were recorded to have been engaged in library work throughout the villages of Assam and during the span of 10 years (1938-1948) Barthakur organized 250 libraries. Between May-July, 1971 it established Goalpara, Tezpur, Jorhat, Nagaon, Nalbari, Barpeta, Dibrugarh, Mangoldoi, Guwahati Mahkuma Committee for carrying out its activities but in the subsequent years it did not give much fruitful result. The Association, further, at its “Granthalok” of 1972/1973 listed 169 rural libraries of Assam with detailed address (Granthalok: 1973: 81-87) that were affiliated to ALA.

c) Draft Public Library Act: On the invitation of the 8th conferences (1964) of the All Assam Library Association held at Gauhati under the chairmanship of Pandit Dr. Maheswar Neog, Dr. S. R. Ranganathan prepared a Draft Public Libraries Act for Assam which was submitted to the Government and further in the 9th Annual conference held at Guwahati on 9, 10 and 11th April, 1971 reiterated its earlier demand but it has not got any fruitful result till now. The Draft Public Library Act was published in the Souvenir of Assam Library Association of 1971. Again, since 1998 attempt has continuously been made to enact the library legislation in Assam. A draft Assam State Public Library and Information Bill made by a Govt-appointed committee has been submitted and now it is in the process of being accepted.

d) Publication: In connection with the 8th Annual conference of 1964 ALA published one Souvenir; A Souvenir was also published by the reception committee with 9th Annual conference in 1971. At the 10th Annual Conference on 24th and 25th November, 1972 at Nagaon the half yearly official organ of the Association titled “Granthalok” took birth. In 1972/73 it brought out another volume of “Granthalok”. One newsletter was published in the year 1999. In 2015, ALA published two issues of ALA Newsletter and one edited book “Lets Read Book”. In 2015-2016 another two issues of the ALA Newsletter was published under the editorship of Badan Barman.

e) Seminars, Conferences, Workshops and Training: ALA also made an attempt to build up a voluntary village library system by organizing conferences in different districts and in this way has been able to arouse and enlist public support and sympathy for public libraries by holding different conferences at Dibrugarh (1938), Tezpur (1952), Nagawn, Jorhat (1953), Golaghat (1955), Bokakhat (1957), Mangoldoi (1959), Guwahati (8th conference, 24th and 25th October 1964), Guwahati (9th conference on 9, 10 and 11th April, 1971), Nagaon (10th Annual Conference on 24th and 25th November, 1972) etc.

f) Librarian’s Day Celebration:  In 1998 ALA celebrated Librarian’s Day with Guwahati Library Association (GLA) at Guwahati and in 1999 with Jorhat Library Association. It observed its 12th Annual Conference on 12th August at Guwahati District Library Auditorium along with the Librarian’s Day which was also observed in association with the Department of Library and Information Science, Gauhati University and Guwahati Library Association.

g) Raising Voice for the Libraries: In the year 2015, when the Government of Assam tried to demolish the Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Hall and Library, ALA took active role in making people aware about the importance of maintaining the hall in the present form itself. As a result, the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority’s (GMDA) retract itself from the demolition bid.

5. Conclusion: Through a resolution passed in the 8th Conference (1964), the All Assam Library Association had resolved to start a certificate course in Library Science but till now it has not been implemented. Again in 2015, under the leadership of Professor Alaka Buragohain, the ALA starts “Lets Read Book” campaign and its growth is still in the infant stage. In simple, though ALA is trying hard to gain popularity, unless some young and energetic librarian takes the responsibility, the future of the Association is not encouraging.
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