Kathmandu, April 23
The Nepal National Library in Hariharbhawan, Pulchowk; and Keshar Library in Keshar Mahal, Kantipath; have been struggling to reopen to the public after the 2015 earthquakes.
These two libraries went unnoticed as World Book and Copyright Day was marked today.
The NNL, which has a collection of more than 150,000 books, has remained shut for nearly three years; while Keshar Library, boasting a collection of 65,000 books is being run from a cramped area inside the Keshar Mahal building.
According to Chief Librarian at NNL Upendra Prasad Mainali, all the books in the library were packed in about 6,000 sacks and sent to Mahendra Bhawan Secondary School, Gaucharan, and the office of National Centre for Education Development, Thimi, for storage.
Mainali informed that work to unpack and restore the books into bookshelves began last year, however, at least 600 such sacks are stranded due to lack of proper space and furniture to store them. “As our staffers regularly dust off the books and apply caution while handling, we have been able to preserve our collection,” he added.
Whereas in Keshar Library, the books were found stacked in cramped bookshelves that were not easy to retrieve.
Chief Librarian Dashrath Mishra said, “Library users can request for books and our staffers will hand over the books to them.” He added, “The Kehar Mahal building has turned very fragile structurally after the quakes due to which we have to control movement of users inside the library.”
At least 250 visitors used to visit the Keshar Library on a daily basis before the 2015 quakes, but the number of visitors these days stands at around 30 to 40, according to staffers at the library. They further explained that most users visiting the library prepared for foreign language tests like TOEFL and IELTS or read newspapers.
The detailed project report for reconstruction of these archaeological buildings, where the two libraries are housed, is yet to be prepared.
The 106-year-old Hariharbhawan was built by Shankar Shamsher JBR where the second floor of the building was later provided to run the NNL from January 2, 1997.
Similarly, Keshar Library was set up by Chandra Shamsher JBR in 1895 for his son Keshar Shamsher JBR, who was an avid reader and collector. The library was later brought under the government in 1965.
A version of this article appears in print on April 24, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.