In the 1840s, William Ewart, JosephBrotherton, and EdwardEdwards, became involved in a campaign to obtain a system of public libraries.Brotherton and Ewart were both Liberal MPs but Edwards was a Chartist who was also involved in thestruggle for universal suffrage. Edwards, a former bricklayer, had educatedhimself by spending his non-working time in Mechanics’Institute libraries,and in 1839 became an assistant in the Department of Printed Books in theBritish Museum.When William Ewart introduced his Public Libraries Billin 1849 he encountered considerable hostility from the Conservatives in the House of Commons.
It was argued that the rate payingmiddle and upper classes would be paying for a service that would be mainlyused by the working classes. One argued that the “people have too muchknowledge already: it was much easier to manage them twenty years ago; the moreeducation people get the more difficult they are to manage.” Ewart wastherefore forced to make several changes to his proposed legislation beforeParliament agreed to pass the measure.William Ewart and JosephBrotherton continuedwith their struggle for a more generous and comprehensive approach to publiclibrary provision.
This led to two amendments to the 1850 Public Libraries Act.In 1853 the act was extended to Scotland and Ireland and in 1855 the rate whichcould be levied was raised to a penny. Borough Councils were also granted thepower to buy reading material for their libraries.The penny rate still made it impossible for local authorities toprovide libraries without the support of wealthy entrepreneurs. Thesephilanthropists usually supported libraries in their own areas. Forexample, HenryTate and JohnPassmore Edwards in London. However, the greatest supporter of public librarieswas AndrewCarnegie, who helped tofinance over 380 libraries in Britain.
Manchester was one of the first to establish apublic library and appointed one of the main campaigners for this reform,Edward Edwards, as its first Chief Librarian. However, Edwards’ radicalpolitical views resulted in him being dismissed in 1858.The United Kingdom was the first country to bring into force the librarylegislation as back as 1850. later in 1876 U.
S.A. followed suit. SubsequentlyJapan became the first Asian country to enact legislation in 1899.
Taking aqueue from the developed countries, in bringing about the development of publiclibraries, India also made attempts during the 1930s to have library legislationat the national level. To quote S.R.
Ranganathan at this juncture, “In our country,the seed for library legislation was sown as far back as 1930 – even during theBritish period. It was in the form of my Model library Act discussed andgenerally approved by the library Service Section of the First Asian EducationalConference held in Banaras. An importantlandmark in the history of public library services in India was made byMaharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekward by introducing free compulsory elementaryeducation backed by libraries in 1883.
Ancient Period(before 1200 AD):References are available to prove that Nalanda University (in Bihar) had itsown multi-storeyed library in 600 AD with massive collection of manuscripts.The collection of the library was housed in three buildings, each having ninefloors and three hundred rooms. This library was opened by the then Emperor ofIndia, King Davapal.Medieval period(1200-1757 AD): Muslimsruled India in the Medieval Period and hence, it is also known as Mughal Period.
All the succession of rulers, namely, Babur, Humayun, Akbar and Jahangir madetheir distinctive contributions to education and libraries.The British Period(1757-1947): TheUniversity of Calcutta (1857), University of Bombay (1879), and University ofMadras (1907) were the first three universities were established along withtheir libraries. There were only nineteen Universities in India before 1947. TheBritish also showed keen interest to set up educational societies with theirlibraries and public libraries in India. The establishment of Bengal RoyalAsiatic Society library (1784), Bombay Royal Asiatic Society (1804) andCalcutta Public Library (1835) enlightened the public.
Gaya Public Library,Gaya (1855), Long Library, Rajkot (1856), Connemara Public Library, Madras(1860), Government Library, Janagarh (1867), Adyar Library, Adyar (1886) and DahiLaxmi Library, Nadiad (1892). Gujarat Vernacular Society & library,Ahmadabad (1848), Barton Library, Bhavnagar (1882), Baroda State Library(1877), Cochin Public Library and Reading Room, Trichur (1873), VictoriaGeneral Library, Dhar (1856), Indore General Library (1852), Maharajah’s PublicLibrary, Jaipur (1899), Jammu and Kashmir library (1879), Kahtiawar library(1886), Kolhapur library (1850), Nizam’s Dominion (1891), Travancore library(1829), etc were the other important libraries established during British rule.The Calcutta Public Library became Imperial Library in 1903 and later becamethe National Library of India after Independence. Dr S.R.
Ranganathan alsoplayed a significant role in the library development as well asknowledge oflibrary science. After joining the post of University Librarian at Universityof Madras in 1924, Ranganathan went to United Kingdom and gained knowledge onlibraries. Ranganathan published his Five Laws of Library Science (1931),Colon Classification (1933) and Classified Catalogue Code (1934)and also prepared Model Public Library Bill, which helped to enact publiclibrary legislation in Indian states. Post-IndependencePeriod (1947 onwards):The Kolhapur Public Libraries Act (1945) was thefirst library act in India and it was followed by Madras state (presently TamailNadu) in 1948, Andhra Pradesh (1960), Karnataka (1965), Maharashtra (1967),West Bengal (1979), Manipur (1988), Kerala (1989), Haryana (1989), Mizoram(1993), Goa (1994),Gujarath (2002), Odisha (2002), Uttaranchal (2006) andRajasthan (2006).
The Advisory Committee for Libraries (known as SinhaCommittee) which was constituted in 1957 by the Government of India, a draftedModel Library Bill. In 1954, the Delivery of Book Act was passed and lateramended in 1956 to include newspapers also. As per the Act every publisher inIndia obliged to deposit one copy each of its publications to the NationalLibrary in Calcutta, the Asiatic Society Library in Bombay, Connemara PublicLibrary in Madras, and Delhi Public Library in New Delhi.