KATHMANDU, Sept 23: Tribhuvan University Central Library is in a state of disarray in lack of proper management, adequate space and other resources necessary to keep the country's biggest library in order.
The TU library is also the largest one in the entire Asia Pacific region with around 400,000 resources, including books and periodicals, according to the TU Central Library.
It stacks wide range of books, some as old as from the 12th century, and also rare collections like Bibliotheca Himalayica.
The main problems of library are lack of bookshelves, lack of space, poor physical infrastructure and absence of maintenance budget, said Janardan Dhungana, the head of the library. Although it has the quota of 75 staffs, only 54 are presently working at the central library. “The TU central office does not consult or inform us about staff appointment or transfers, causing difficulties,” said Dhungana.
“Another complication is the lack of planning and management to develop the library for providing various services to the readers,” he added.
About 1,500 general readers visit the library daily, among them 1,000 are university students and some 500 are outside students.
The major age groups visiting library fall into the category of youths. “Students doing research or writing book or those preparing for Public Service Commission and other government service exams are the main readers of the library,” said Dhungana.
However, most visitors to the library complained of mismanagement and lack of updated stock of books.
“Sometimes books are not available according to the catalog. Often important chapters are missing from the books,” said, Niraj Kumar Pun, a student in the Department of English.
However, another reader is quite satisfied with library. “All the books are easily available," said Amrit Dev, a second year student of Medical Microbiology.
Some of the old sections of the library building got damaged during the devastating earthquake in April 2015. It is estimated that more than 40 million is need to repair and rebuild the building.
Soon after the earthquake, the staffs from Nepal army and police, the library staffs and students helped to rearrange the books. As the books were kept in order and library remained open, the flow of readers did not decrease, said Dhungana.
Few years ago, the practice of tearing pages from important books in the library was rife, said librarians. “However, this has been totally discouraged at present,” said librarians. Books that are unreadable are regularly replaced by the library, they said.
As the library has made photocopy facility available, students no longer tear pages from books. In addition, visitors know that they are under CCTV surveillance.
We are planning to add ten more CCTVs and tracking machine to control the loss of books to theft, according to Dhungana, the library head.
“The main goals of the library are to develop it into research library, produce excellence and promote knowledge-based society.”
But in the past few years, the library has failed to update its stocks with new and recent publications.
"The entire periodical section is dumped in the godown due to the lack of bookshelves,” lamented Nil Prasad Pant, assistant professor in the Department of History. Pant has been a regular visitor to the library right since his days as a young student at the TU. “The periodicals and journals section are not updated timely,” he said.
Pant worried about loss of reading habits among young people. "It's a damning trend in the area of knowledge and development," he added.