The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture has been maintaining a library since its inception. Its collection was initially confined to a few books and journals, stacked in one or two book-cases. In 1941, Dr. Barid Baran Mukherjee gifted over 33,000 volumes to the library.
Since then its collection has grown steadily even as the Institute’s location changed to 4A, Wellington Square, then to 111, Russa Road, and finally to its current permanent premises at Gol Park in November 1961.
The library at Gol Park was planned by a group of experts under the leadership of Shri B.S. Keshavan, the first librarian of the National Library of India. In the late 1990s, a need was felt to further increase library space to meet the ever-increasing demands of its members. Revered Swami Lokeswarananda, the then Secretary of the Institute, initiated the acquisition of property adjacent to the Institute which was finalized during the tenure of Revered Swami Prabhananda as Secretary. Work on the annexe building began after most Revered Swami Ranganathananda, the 13th President of the Ramakrishna Order, laid the foundation stone on May 15, 2002. The annexe was completed and formally inaugurated by most Revered Swami Gahanananda, the 14th President of the Ramakrishna Order, on November 6, 2005.
The Library has three wings : (i) General Library (ii) Children’s Library and (iii) Junior Library. The library also oversees the responsibilities of other departmental libraries of the Institute. Professionally managed, the library ranks foremost among the public libraries in Eastern India.
CURRENT COLLECTIONS AND CONTENT OFFERINGS
Books: The General Library houses 235,897 books; the Children’s Library and Junior Library house 8,227 and 16,084 books respectively.
Rare Books: The library has a collection of approximately 8000 rare books in paperbound format.
E-Books: Online access is provided to an Open Library of free e-books. Also, access is provided upon request, to digitized versions of approximately 4000 rare books.
Audio-Video Library: The General Library has an excellent database of recorded lectures and music recitals that have taken place at the Institute over the years. Free access to these in audio-video format is provided to the users in the Reading Room.
Journals: The library subscribes to 427 national and international print journals.
E-Journals: Online access is provided to the following e-journals consortia:
- JSTOR : Area of Studies (567 titles), Arts (1455 titles) Business and Economics (1819 titles), History (6941 titles), Humanities (7199 titles), Law (749 titles), Medicine and Allied Health (558 titles), Science and Mathematics (556 titles) Social Science (9709 titles)
- Cambridge University Press : 300 titles
- Oxford University Press : 500 titles approximately
- SAGE : 50 titles approximatel
- JGATE : 500 titles (Art, Humanities, Basic Science, Biomedicine Science, Engineering & Technology); and
- Free Journals : 1000 titles
Microfilms: The library has a collection of around 500 microfilms.
Multimedia Section in Children’s Library: This section offers an interesting collection of learning and knowledge enhancement tools for children.
Gift of Personal Collections: The library welcomes donation of personal libraries. Many such collections including those of Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, R K Dasgupta, Bimal Krishna Matilal, J N Mohanty, Bidhu Sekhar Shastri and Devendranath Bhaduri have been donated to the library.
FACILITIES AND SERVICES
MEMBERSHIP: Membership of the Institute is open to all, who are in sympathy with its aim and activities. Life membership is offered upon a donation of Rs. 3000/- or more; regular members are required to pay Rs. 240/- annually in addition to an admission fee of RS. 10/-. The Institute reserves the right to refuse membership to any person without providing any reason.
The members are allowed to use the Institute’s Library and Reading Room subject to Library rules. They are also allowed a discount of 25% on all publications of the Institute. Life members receive a free copy of the Institute’s Bulletin every month.
Children aged between 6 and 11 years can become annual members of the Children’s Library by paying an annual fee of Rs. 120/- and also an admission fee of Rs. 10/- at the time of registration. The same charges apply to young students between 12 and 15 years desirous of annual membership of the Junior Section Library. The membership is limited to children living within areas under Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and Bidhan Nagar Municipality.
Today, there are 5000 life-members, 20,000 active annual general-members and 4,000 active child-members. On an average, 2000 members visit the library daily.
ELECTRONIC ACCESS: Online access is provided free to the members for reading e-journals and e-books. Also, offline access is provided to read or browse digitized rare books from the library’s collections. Access to microfilms is provided on request.
INFORMATION SERVICES: The information desk at the library addresses bibliographic information needs of users promptly. The desk also orients new users to the various facilities offered by the library.
Book Search: The library provides two search options : traditional printed card-index system (Card Catalogue) and computer-based search facility (Online Public Access Catalogue – OPAC). The information desk provides all necessary support in case of any difficulty in finding correct source information.
New Arrivals: Members can get information on new book acquisitions through the jacket displays on the notice board and physical display of the books in the reading room.
READING ROOMS: There are two large fully air-conditioned and well-illuminated reading rooms with CCTV facility; one in the General Library and the other in the Children’s Library. The rooms can house over 200 general readers and 100 children respectively. The members can access 10,000 reference books and 427 periodicals in the reading room of General Library.
LENDING FACILITY: The members may borrow up to three books from the General library in accordance with library rules (see section on Rules and Regulation). They may renew books once over the telephone or in person for an additional period of 14 days. They may also reserve one book for home-issue and two for reading room use. The members of the Children’s Library and Junior Library are allowed to borrow only one book at a time.
PHOTOCOPYING AND REPROGRAPHY: Photocopies and printouts are available on payment and as per the library rules. Downloads are available in CD format on payment and as per library rules (see the section on Rules and Regulations).
INTERNET BROWSING: The library provides a limited number of computers with broadband connectivity for internet browsing for academic purposes only. The users are prohibited from using this service for e-mail, chat or social networking.
LAPTOP ZONE: There is a specially designated area in the library where members may use their own laptops for academic purposes only.
TECHNICAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT
INTEGRATED LIBRARY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: The library has a well-defined Library Management Software (VLMS: Vivekananda Library Management Software) which is regularly upgraded and enhanced. It runs on a structured network platform having two Oracle-11g R2 Data Servers, two Image Servers, one Development Server and one Anti-virus server. The platform brings together 100 workstations, high-resolution scanners, digital printers and a reprographic printer. The system supports various library operations including membership management, acquisitions of books and periodicals, classification and cataloguing, circulation, security checks at entry and exit points, digitization of rare books and journal, search facility, binding operations management and networked access to e-books, digitized rare books and e-journals.
STACKING: The library’s entire collection of books, periodicals and other documents is distributed over 5 floors of stacking space. The old building has 14,300 sq ft of stacking space; in the new annexe an additional 11,900 sq ft has been added, taking the total to 26,200 sq ft. A room with specially designed racks has also been assigned to house the rare books collection.
ADMINISTRATION: The Library is run under the effective guidance of two committees : (i) Library Committee, and (ii) Selection Committee. The Library Committee supervises the operational aspects and the Selection Committee takes care of acquisitions of new books, journals and other documents. The Secretary of the Institute heads both the committees. In addition, the library employs trained staff to address all technical, operational and administrative needs.
THE VIVEKANANDA STUDY CIRCLE (JUNIOR):
The library oversees the workings of the Vivekananda Study Circle (Junior) for children up to the age of 15. The children are library members, students of the Gadadhar Pathshala and Sarada Devi School of Arts and Crafts. The Circle holds a meeting every month and organizes a musical programme, “Mahishasur Mardini” every year to celebrate “Mahalaya” and the festive season. Elocution and art competitions are also held for Circle members and awards are given at the annual event to celebrate “Mahalaya”. The Circle has over 800 young children as its active members.