Rajshahi College Library: Bridge between the past and the present

-Mohammad Mahiuddin


If someone keeps the roaring waves of the centurial ocean tied just like a silently sleeping child, the library would be compared with this great silent word…. But who knew that man could bind words within the silence…just books would make bridge upon the intangible ocean of time. The world renowned poet Rabindranath Tagore relevantly said this in his article Library written in Pous 1292 (the Bengali era).

Blessed with the touch of Hazrat Shah Mokhdum (Rah:) the peaceful city of Rajshahi is situated on the bank of the once mighty river Padma. The historically famous Rajshahi College was established at the heart of this city. There is no document to prove whether the college library started functioning with the establishment of Rajshahi College in 1873 or not. It started working primarily collecting some books, documents and government reports into its own newly built building.

However according to the newly introduced rules of the University of Calcutta a standard library required to be established. So Rajshahi College started a college Library in its common room consisting of three small rooms. The college inspectors of Calcutta University raised allegation several times against its shape, size and environmental condition and they gave suggestion to appoint a librarian who must be educated, wise and curious to learn.

Lybriey pp

During that period the Principals took several years to materialize this suggestion. In the session 1917-1918 there were 10012 books and subsequently in 1920, there were 10275 books which were considered acceptable by the authority of the University of Calcutta. Sanskrit, Bangla manuscripts, periodicals and other precious and ancient books were preserved in the Rajshahi College library. Only four thousand rupees per year was sanctioned to buy books for the library till 1933 and only two hundred rupees was allotted for binding books yearly. It is shown in the report of Rajshahi College 1935, students were allowed to borrow books from the library giving 5 rupees as security money.

At present books, periodicals, magazines, newspapers etc are purchased for the library at the cost of about Tk. 300000 (three lac only) every year. The catalogues of books in 1939 and 1942 were published by the government of that time. The present catalogue of the library contains nearly 25000 books and a good collection of periodicals.

There are more than five hundred manuscripts preserved in the library written in Sanskrit. These manuscripts are  related to the Vedas, mythology, epic, poetry, tantra etc. of Sanskrit literature.  Most of these manuscripts are made of indigenous materials and written on hand-made cotton paper. Its paper is sterilized with smearing of sulphuret of arsenic and mica (auvro). These manuscripts are made of microbalan, cinnabar, coal, milk of goat, blossom of China rose etc. written in homemade ink. The colour of the ink is black and permanent. They were written with the pens made of bamboo, reed, feather of peacock or vulture using shakabda, sambat and san etc. These are without sewing tied with wood.

The library of Rajshahi College is one of the treasure houses of rare books, various types of manuscripts and periodicals. The collection of books of the library is 78000. Teachers, researchers of different institutions and about 500 students study daily in this library. The facilities of the library are increased through reshuffling of accommodation area of study and supplying sufficient furniture, new books and periodicals. The environment of study has been improved and necessary reforms have been done in the inner part of the library. This library is now connected with the Internet for collecting worldwide information related to newly published books and journals.

In addition, students may have instant access to the results of public examinations, information issued by the educational administration and knowledge in science and technology of the world. Rajshahi College Library has been playing a significant role providing students with lots of opportunities to gain academic knowledge as well as different ideas and thoughts through books and journals. So, this library has been the bridge among the past, the present and the future. We are happy to be the part of this library which has enlightened and will enlighten us through ages.