Policy to guide libraries soon

Kathmandu, February 16:

With the objectives of setting guidelines for the registration of libraries, allocating funds and setting standards, a nine-member committee constituted by the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) has been working to come out with a regulatory policy.

Though the first library — Nepal National Library (NNL) — was established in 1956, and several were established thereafter, policies to regulate the libraries were lacking. Constituted some eight months ago, the nine-member committee is headed by Dashrath Thapa, chief at the NNL. The committee has representatives of public, private and community libraries as its members. Due to the lack of relevant policies and laws, registration, status and standard of libraries had not been maintained, Dasharath Thapa, coordinator of the policy formulating team, told this daily. “We have begun the work and will submit a draft policy to the ministry in two months,” said Thapa.

According to him, the new policy will set guidelines for the registration of the libraries, set standards, collect data and allocate budget for the libraries.

There will be no confusion as to where to register the libraries once the policy is formulated, Juju Bhai Dangol, library manager at the Society for Kathmandu Valley Public Library. Most of the libraries are registered as NGOs at the District Administration Offices, some in municipalities and some at the District Education Offices. “Some of the libraries are even registered as cooperatives,” said Dangol.

The Education Minister had recently told the committee that the libraries should be registered at the DEOs as they are directly related to the education sector.

Without relevant act and law, community libraries in particular had not been able to perform as desired, Bhola Shrestha, president of the Nepal Library Association (NLA), said. “There is a need to promulgate a legal depository act, which should make it mandatory to deposit the books printed in Nepal in the national library for the benefit of the people,” said Shrestha.

According to the NLA, there are around 1,000 libraries, save the school libraries, in

the country — 600 public and community libraries and 400 government, department and campus libraries.

“The adult literacy programme would not be successful if they were not linked with community libraries,” said Shrestha.

Even though there is no policy, major public libraries have been getting budget to run them. In Keshar Library, only 1000-1500 books can be bought yearly from a budget allocated for buying books, which stands at Rs 2.80 lakhs. Lack of regulatory policies and fund crunch have hit the community libraries the hardest.