“I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture, and our concern for the future, can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.”
– Carl Edward Sagan
These words by Carl Sagan says a lot about the importance of libraries in the growth of intellectual communities, that help us produce responsible citizens. Libraries have utmost importance in the life of students, researchers, and scholars. A university without a well equipped and well-functioning library is like a dark room in a well-lit house.
The University of Delhi is colloquially regarded as the topmost university in India to pursue higher studies in humanities and social sciences. QS “Top 10 Universities in India 2018” rankings placed the University of Delhi at the seventh place lagging far behind the IITs. It’s very ironic that a university that lacks an essential element of an academic institution’s infrastructure, i.e. a 24×7 library, made it to the list of top 10 universities in India.
Universities like Jawaharlal Nehru University, Aligarh Muslim University, and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, etc. which are not listed of top 10 universities of India do have a 24×7 well equipped and well-functioning library.
Half a year ago, some students of Banaras Hindu University organised mass protests, strikes, and demonstrations to demand a 24×7 library. It is very tragic that basic infrastructure is not provided to students, and to demand such basic needs, students have to quit classes and waste their time on the failure of university policies, planning, and administration. In case of BHU, the university had taken action but for the worse. The university had taken disciplinary actions against the students who demanded a 24×7 library.
The University of Delhi has a huge library with a stock of lakhs of books. The central library has two reading areas, one on the ground floor and the other on the second floor. The reading hall on the second floor is reserved for research (MPhil/ PhD) students and faculty members, while the ground floor reading areas are unreserved and anybody can read there. But the unreserved reading area is available only up to 7 PM, and the reading area on the second floor is available until midnight.
So basically, intentionally or unintentionally, the university administration and library staff have kept the masters’ students from using their own library. A nexus of private reading halls or libraries is growing around the campus of the University of Delhi. These private libraries charge around ₹2000 per month and students are forced to pay that huge amount because their own university is not able to provide them with the space they need. It’s very infuriating that the university is not able to provide their students with a space to read, write and think.
An application demanding 24×7 library access was submitted to the librarian of the Delhi University Library System (DULS) on November 1, 2017. No action has been taken by the librarian to fulfill the demands of the students.
For three days in the freezing cold in Delhi, students have been sitting outside the central library to raise their demands of a 24×7 library, but no one in the university is listening to the voice of these dedicated students.
On the night of February 6, 2018, the library administration had used force (bouncers) to stop students from entering the library, and a person even manhandled some of the protesters. The university administration should be ashamed of themselves for not providing the basic academic environment and infrastructure.