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State takes its census from classrooms to the library

Last year, the state government had the most educative experience, when, in course of a state-wide school census, it learnt that droves of ghost students existed in school roles, so the school administrators could pocket more money as grant from the Education department. After learning its lesson, the government now plans to move from the classrooms to libraries, to make sure that there are actual books on the shelves.

From May 21 to 25, the state revenue department officials – from tahsildars to deputy collectors – will swarm public libraries in their areas as part of a statewide census. At present, the state has 12,859 libraries, but the government has a strong hunch that many of these exist merely on paper, so that grants can be pocketed.

Following the
successful and enlightening school census, 2,600 institutions with more that 50 per cent absentees face closure. The drive ended up saving the state an estimated Rs 1,200 crore worth of grants that was earlier doled out to schools. Revenue department officials are being specially trained from May 19-21, and will check whether these libraries are functioning properly, and also look that the number of books they are equipped with, and the number of members and visitors on their rolls.

The government spends approximately Rs 70 crore per annum as financial assistance to public libraries, of which 50 per cent is utilised for salaries of over 22,000 employees. The rest is earmarked as administrative expenses. Out of the 12,859 libraries in the state, 339 are in categorised as A class, 2,206 as B class, 4,325 as C class, and 5,989 as D class libraries. All these libraries are expected to submit their annual reports on their condition by June 30, and annual reports with balance sheets will have to be submitted before October 31.

“During our periodic checks, we found that 2,000 libraries did not exist, or weren’t being run properly. We decided to cancel the registration of such libraries with the state government,” said D S Chavan, state director of libraries. The statewide census is part of the state cabinet’s decision for a 50 per cent hike in government grants to public libraries.

Number games
28
The number of public libraries in Mumbai

Rs 95 cr
The amount sanctioned by the state for upkeep of public libraries for the year 2012-13

22,000
The approximate number of employees in public libraries across the state  

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