Posted: Aug 04, 2009 at 0223 hrs IST
Ludhiana - In a city where affluence and extravagance rule the roost, there are many who love to spend time in the company of books. And for many of the bibliophiles in the city, the Panjab University Extension Library is the place to be.
Established in 1960, the library was one of the three prestigious libraries of India.
Prem Parkash Verma, who retired as librarian in 2003, said, "It was opened by the UGC and American PL 480 Plan (UNESCO) at Jaipur, Madurai and Ludhiana. While the remaining two have closed down, this continues to cater to a segment of the city's intelligentsia. The library started from rented rooms in the Zila Parishad complex in 1960. It was shifted to the present building in April 1967 and was formally inaugurated in February 1968 by V V Giri, the then President of India."
Since then, catering to the needs of readers, this beautiful monument stands in the form of an impressive academic structure in the heart of the city near the Fountain Chowk in Civil Lines.
It may not be an excellent architectural specimen but exudes a fragrance of books even as one enters the portals of this red stone building. The library, which started with 15,000 books, now boasts of more than 1.60 lakh volumes of different subjects and languages other than periodicals and newspapers.
According to Verma, "In 2003, the Panjab University Regional Centre came up here. Later, a newly-opened institute of law and an institute of management added feather to the library's cap. I feel that general readership declined perhaps due to the impact of computers and TV channels."
With more than 2,000 members on its rolls, many prefer to come here to prepare for their competitive exams in the serene environment of the elongated rooms.
Jaswinder Singh Dhillon, a youngster said, "I visit the library twice a week. It is such a nice place to study and of course the very ambiance charms me."
Recalling their old times, Sukhcharan Singh, a government schoolteacher, said, "I never bought any book during our post-graduation and used to come here to prepare notes. I scored very good marks and also qualified in my competitive exam after studying here."
Neena Sagar, an old student of SCD Government College for Boys, said, "I still cherish the moments I spent here while preparing for my exams in MA English. The old wooden chairs, the well-planned catalogues and of course the plethora of books always fascinated me."