by Anup Kumar Das
IFLA Journal, 2015, 41(4): 370–380. DOI: 10.1177/0340035215603992
Abstract: The 19th- and 20th-century Bengal Province in India was a nerve-centre with hosts of socio-cultural and religious reform movements due to its early association with secular liberal western education. Modern institutions of higher learning, established by colonial rulers, European missionaries and contemporary social reformers, led to the awakening of Bengali educated communities. This Bengal Renaissance had contributed towards strengthening production of Bengali literature and the development of the Bengali language. Socially active reformers established community libraries as community learning space in their respective localities. Many century-old libraries are still in existence. These community libraries extended their access to the youth, students, industrial workers and lifelong learners. With this background, this paper aims at in-depth analysis of the legacy of the Bengal Renaissance in the development of public libraries in India during colonial British rule. This paper also looks into the role of the individual reformist genres in the design and delivery of effective public library services and library outreach services in the province.
Keywords: History, community libraries, public libraries, metropolitan libraries, India, South Asia, Bengal Province, Bengal Renaissance, British Raj