Jessore Institute Public Library

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Jessore Institute Public Library an historic library established at the private initiative of the district collector RC Rex in 1854 on 3 acres of land at the heart of jessore town. Rex raised funds from the local rich people for construction of its library building and for purchase of books. Many responded to his call and among them were some indigo planters and the zamindars of Narail and Naldanga. The library was named Jessore Public Library.

At the beginning, the library was a place for both reading and leisurely discussions. In one part of it, there were the shelves of books and in the other, a billiard table. The library did not take much time to expand. A number of other institutions were developed around it. The Town hall was established in 1909, the New Arya Theatre in 1919 and the B Sarker Memorial Hall for the Arya Theatre in 1921. In 1927, Sir roy bahadur jadunath majumdar of lohagara of Jessore district took an initiative of developing a full-scale cultural centre by integrating the Jessore Public Library, New Arya Theatre and the Town Club. This resulted in creation of the Jessore Institutes in 1928. Later, the library was made a part of the Jessore Institutes through a government order, following which the establishment became known as the Jessore Institute Public Library. Lawyer Abinashchandra Sarker of Lohagara funded the construction of a new building for the library in 1928 and named it Biswnath Library Hall after the name of his father. In May 1942, the Royal Indian Air Force acquired all the buildings of the Jessore Institutions for military purpose. The library thus lost its accommodation, which it could regain only after the Second World War was over.

In January 1998, the library had a collection of 67,197 books, of which 49,306 were in Bangla, 17,391 in English and 300 in Arabic, Persian and Urdu. The library preserves 200 handwritten manuscripts and some of them are very old. These include scripts written on tulot paper and palm leaves by the Shrikrishna Daipayana Bedbyas, author of the mahabharata and copies of manuscripts of kalidasa, Raghuram Kabiraj, kashiram das, Trilochan Das, Bhatrihari, Padmanan Dutta, Amar Shingha and Matsanakya. Also in the list of manuscripts preserved in the library is the copy of the book Raban Indrajit Sangbad written on the theme of ramayana.

Jessore Institute Library had 1,606 members in 1998. Fifty of them were donor members and 167 were life members. The number of paid employees in the library was 25. At present, the library has its own three-storyed building for a regional book bank and a two-storyed building for reading facilities and issue of books. It owns two markets with 51 shops. Around the library, there is a primary school, a cinema hall, a revolving stage, a theatre group, an open theatre for the children, the town club, a big pond and the Munshi Meherullah Ground. The library has a mobile unit to serve people of the surrounding districts. [Benjeen Khan]