History of Uttarpara Jaykrishna Public Library
Jaykrishna Mukherjee, who was a well-known social reformer and landlord, was the founder of Uttarpara Jaykrishna Public Library. He inaugurated this library on 15th April, 1859 and this is said to be the oldest free Public Library in the entire country. Initially, the library possessed the personal books and other literary collections of Jaykrishna which were easily accessible by researchers. Jaykrishna started this library being motivated by Dwarkanath Tagore and following the regulations of the Public Library Act of 1850 (Britain). The library was erected by him as it was his long cherished dream to instill the sense of literacy, education and scholarship in Bengal. During August, 1854, he had sent a proposal to the Divisional Commissioner of Burdwan for construction of a public library. Eventually he ended up paying the entire amount of finances for Uttarpara Public Library. Some citizens of Uttarpara were appointed as curators of this library.
During the time of establishment of the library, it contained nearly 3, 000 books, numerable periodicals which belonged to the private collection of Jaykrishna Mukherjee. He added more books to the library from various sources including unique journals from the Bengal Harkara Library as well as books from the book-sellers settled at China Bazar. As many as 2, 500 books in Sanskrit and Bengali and 12, 000 books in English language were a part of this library within the year 1865.
Collections of Uttarpara Jaykrishna Public Library
Presently, the library is enriched with 45, 000 ancient and unique books belonging to the 17th and 19th century, 2, 500 old periodicals, 65, 000 new books, 450 manuscripts and 20, 000 new and bound periodicals. 'Calcutta Monthly Journal', 'Dig Darshan', 'Somprakash' and 'Bengal Chronicle' are a few of the several rare and old volumes of books in English and Bengali. Books of several reputed publishers of that period, Parliamentary Reports (1649), 'Roman Letters by Max Mueller', 'East India Pamphlets' (1812), 'Holy Bible' in Sanskrit, 'Sanskrit Grammar' in Devanagri script, etc. are amongst the other significant collections present here. Readers will come across 200 palm-leaf manuscripts in Sanskrit which have been acquired from the monasteries of Tibet and the areas of Kashmir and Benaras. There also exists numerous other famous books like 'Agyan Timir Nahak' by Baidyanath Acharya, 'Gaudiya Vyakaran' by Ram Mohan Roy, 'Hectorbadh Kavya' by Madhusudan Dutt, 'Natababu Bilas' by Pramanthanath Sharma, 'Shathik Muktibad' by Gadhadhar Bhattacharya, 'Visvagyan O Brahmagyan' by Nrisinghadeb Ghosal, 'Bastu Parichay' by Upendralal Mitra, 'Rajabali' by Mrittyunjoy Vidyalankar and much more.
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