Public Library Management – A Brief History

Public Libraries in India

India has a long history in the field of education and wisdom of the seekers. During ancient Vedic period before 1200 AD, the pupils used to stay at Ashrama (house of Guru) and use various manuscripts which used to be preserved for the use of expanding their wisdom in various disciplines. During the 6th century, Nalanda University records to have a huge public library with three buildings of nine story each.

During the medieval period of 1200 AD to 1750 AD, the Mughal king Babar started a public library in 1526. His son Humayun set up a library at Agra Fort that had a huge collection of manuscripts and calligraphies. Under his lineage, Akbar improved the management of library and started a library for women at Fatehpur Sikri. It was estimated that the library used 24,000 books at the time of his death.

During the British rule after the year 1750, a large number of universities opened and libraries were established in India. Today there are various public libraries at the state and the city level, which employ state-of-the-art technology for their management.

Public Libraries in the USA

During 1665, the public libraries started emerging in American colonies when many early colonists brought books from England. Reverend Thomas Bray established nearly 70 libraries in American colonies during 1695 to 1704.

Later, Sir Benjamin Franklin established the Library Company of Philadelphia. Books were made books available for all those common people who subscribed for membership. The first public library was started as Peterborough Town Library in 1833. In 1854, Boston Public Library was opened on the support of taxes paid by people. Later, the development of American Library picked up, which is a full-fledged library today.

Public Libraries in the UK                               

Public libraries started emerging in the UK during the 16th century. Today, there are more than 3,300 public libraries in the UK. Norwich City library was established in 1608. In 1653, Chetham’s Library was founded at Manchester, which asserts to be the oldest public library in UK. The most noted and frequented public library named the British Library was established in 1753. Most of the libraries today are engaged in digitizing the printed knowledge to be accessed by the users from any corner of the world.

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