History of North Bengal State Library
North Bengal State Central Library boasts of a long history of over 125 long years and is the cultural heritage of the royal kingdom of Cooch Behar. When Cooch Behar was reigned by Maharaja Nripendra Narayan, the then minority ruler of this region, Colonel Houghten served as the Commissioner of this place and he had erected the State Library of Cooch Behar during 1870. This mission as accomplished by buying books at an auction book-sale in London. The library commenced its operations in a room of 'Nilkuthi' but later it was shifted to Lansdown Hall by Maharaja Nripendra Narayan. Presently, this chamber is the office of the District Magistrate. The library was opened to the common masses in the year 1882.
Under the royal patronage of Maharaja of Cooch Behar, this library flourished and grew much richer and well-organised. This ruler is said to have donated a generous amount of funds for buying various books. Numerable unique documents, manuscripts and 'punthis' belonging to the royal court were moved to this library for the general benefit of the public. The library was operated by a librarian of gazetted rank along with four other employees on the eve of the joining of Indian Union and the State of Cooch Behar. During that time, the Director Control of the Minister in charge of the State Council administered the library. Following the merging of Cooch Behar with the Indian Union, the library was transferred to the administrative control of the District Magistrate. Thereafter, a peon and only one librarian were recruited in this library by the Government of India.
It was decided that the North Bengal State Library would be united with the District Library of Cooch Behar inside the chamber of the Deputy Commissioner of Cooch Behar on 13th November, 1967. In the year 1957, the District Library of Cooch Behar was constructed under the sponsored library scheme. The then Deputy Commissioner named Sri Bhaskar Ghosh sent a proposal of merging the North Bengal State Library with the District Library in 1968.
Collections at North Bengal State Library
It is believed that North Bengal State Library is one of the most renowned heritage centres of Cooch Behar as it is home to classic Punthis which have been written on hand-made papers and palm leaf manuscripts. Ancient Indian journals, official reports, foreign rare documents, books and periodicals are a part of this library. Books in languages like English, Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian, Arabic and Bengali are all available in the north Bengal State Library.
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