Serampore College Library

Short History

The Serampore Mission, established by the early Baptist Missionaries, William Carey, Josua Marshman, William Ward and others in January 1800, played a leading role in initiating the modern phase of Indian Library Movement. To sustain and implement high ideals of best possible education in both Eastern and Western learning, a Library was established by the Missioneries immediately in the same month of January, 1800, which became the nucleus of their educational activities. Rev. John Fountain was appointed the first Librarian of the Mission’s Library. The primary object of the Library was to help Carey in his translation work and learning of Oriental languages. But Carey’s interest was in all branches of knowledge, so the Library began to collect books on various subjects.

Reorganization of the Mission’s Library as SERAMPORE COLLEGE LIBRARY was undertaken in 1818 at the time of foundation of Serampore College. In the prospectus of the college circulated on the 15th July 1818, the Missioneries outlined the plan to make it a “Treasure House of Knowledge” which declared that

” the Vedas, Puranas, Darsanas, and all other Sanskrit works on Arts and Science, all the works obtainable in the various popular dialects of India, the most approved Persian and Arabian authors, the Chinese classics and approved authors in that languages, such works in Cinghalese, Tibatese, Pali, Burman, and other Indian dialects, every Hibrew and Syriac works procurable in the East, the best authors of Greek and Latin, the best works in French, Italian and Portuguage, are to be obtained for the Library.”

After the foundation of the college it was planned to erect a building, wherein enough space was allotted to accommodate the Library in the ground floor. In 1822 the building was completed, the Library was placed there and it is still in the same place, except the rare collection, which is now kept in a separate air conditioned room in the new building of the Carey Library erected with the assistance of NORAD and DENIDA in 1994.

The Library gradually developed with the policy of keeping abreast of the best contemporary thoughts in every field of learning. By appealing to the friends at home and abroad, the Library was able to collect a good number of valuable works in 40 Oriental and European languages. Many Sanskrit and Bengali manuscripts were also collected. During the middle part of the 19th century it became one of the greatest and famous Libraries in India.

The Library was reorganized in 1871 and then in 1910. But unfortunately, during 2nd World War, the College building was requisitioned by the Government for Military Hospital and with a short notice the Library had to be shifted elsewhere. During transition some valuable works were damaged and lost. The programmes for development of the Library had a setback due to financial and other constraints.

The major reconstruction of the Library started in 1961 and was completed in 1966 with the assistance of famous bibliographer Katherine Smith Diehl and Librarian Ms FHB Williams. All the reading materials were reclassified and catalogued .The first incunabula printed in India:”Early Indian imprints”, was published from Serampore College under the editorship of Ms Diehl. For the convenience of administration, the Library was divided into three parts: 1) Arts-Science-Commerce section, 2) Theology section, and 3) Carey Library for old and rare books and other materials. A Museum with articles of remembrance was also set up in the name of the founder CAREY MUSEUM under the control of Carey Library.

Coming to the new Millennium, the Library completed its course of 200 years’ journey on the 10th January 2000, since the Mission Library, established on that date, was transformed into the College Library with all its holdings. The college celebrated the historical event with proper gorgeousness and sanctity. The State Minister of Library Mr. Nimai Mal was the chief guest and inaugurated the exhibition organized during the function.

The present scenario

The Library ASC is now divided in to two sections Central Library and Seminar Library.

Seminar Library

Each Honours department has developed its Seminar Library taking a part of the collection of the central library, which is looked after by the teachers of the concerned department.

The Central Library

  1. Infrastructure: The Library housed in the ground floor of the main building a 188 years old massive building of Ionic structure. It has a specious Reading Hall. It can accommodate about 200 readers at a time. The Reading Hall is Open Access. Readers are free to use any book of their choice. The Reading Room collection consists of books on all subjects according to undergraduate syllabus, as well as reference books like encyclopedia, dictionary, collected works of famous writers and the like. The Library subscribes to 35 journals and magazines and four newspapers. These are available in the Reading Room.The library has a good collection of current books and journals. It has a collection old books, magazines, journals and valuable old maps as well.
  2. Users: The users of the Library are undergraduate students and staff members of the college. Besides, Day Scholars and Ex-students are entertained to use the library Reading Room with special permission from the Principal.
  3. Modern Technology: All the Library works have been computerized. The Software used is Libsys. Issue system is computerized but full automation of circulation by using barcode system has to be done shortly. Catalogue search through computer is running on OPAC system of the software.
  4. Working hours:

    10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday

    10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday

    Library remains fully open during summer.

  5. Staff:

    i) Librarian –Mr. Mohitosh Das.
    ii) Library Assistant – Mr. Avijit Sengupta
    iii) Library Attendant – Mr. Tamal Roy & Ms. Milan Chakraborty

  6. Services:

    a) Circulation:

    i) Home Issue of books – Books are issued for a fortnight to the students and for teachers for three months.

    ii) Book Bank Facility – Needy students are issued books for a whole semester (one year).

    b) Current awareness service: Notification of current information regarding Library and any pamphlets received by the Library done. Paper-cuttings, important posters and advertisement of Job, training programme etc.are displayed on Display-board. New arrivals list is available on the counter.

    c) Library subscribes two on-line journals which are open for the use of all.

    d) Users can access e-books through Calcutta University network system. The Library has become a member of INFLIBNET to available the network facilities of all the library of the nation.

  7. Facilities:

    i) Photocopy:

    ii) Web OPAC Search

    iii) Card Catalogue Search : Two indexes are available, 1) Author Index ,2) Classified index

    iv) Internet Kiosk:

    v) Provision for the Handicapped ones:

    a) The Library has developed a small collection of Braille books for the visually impaired.

    b) There is also a provision of wheel chair and special seating arrangement for the Physically handicapped ones.

  8. Special feature: The Library has developed an archive containing a number of old and rare books, journals and reference books.