July 2014 | Nate Pedersen

Controversies at the National Library of India

Is the National Library of India destroying rare books after they have been digitized?  Is the library roof leaking rainwater on books and newspapers?  The Times of India reported last month that the National Library of India has "turned into a dumping ground."

Newspaper informants revealed that books were being torn apart page by page in digitization efforts and that the pages were dumped after the digitization process was completed.

Another informant discussed the deplorable condition of the building's roof:

"Many portions of the ceiling are broken. During monsoon, water seeps in and falls on the books and newspapers kept on the racks. In some areas it's so bad that we have to cover the books with tarpaulin or else they will all be destroyed."

The National Library of India in Kolkata, Bengal, is the largest library of India and the nation's library of public record.

The Times of India also interviewed the library director, P Y Rajendra Kumar, who denied the claim about the roof. "As far as I know there is no such leakage in the library. There was one leak from an AC duct and drops of water were falling on the books. I have told the person concerned to take care of it and it will be repaired immediately. Apart from that there is no leakage."

Kumar's comments, however, did not appease the Times of India who referred to the national library as a "graveyard for books and newspapers." The newspaper also reported that the one of the library's back doors was unlocked and no security was present.

The Times of India does not seem to have asked Kumar about the destruction of rare books after digitization.

So... what's really going on in Kolkata?

[Image from Wikipedia]