North Bengal State Library
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North Bengal State Library is a pride of Cooch Behar. This library has many valuable manuscripts and Classic "Punthis" written on hand made papers and palm leaf. There are many rare books, old journals Indian and foreign rare documents, and reports. The treasure is a cultural heritage of Cooch Behar Kingdom. The library has a long history of 125 years. During the minority of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan, Colonel J C Houghten came to Cooch Behar to act as Commissioner (1864–73). Colonel Houghten established State Library of Cooch Behar in 1870 by purchasing a stock of books at an auction sale of M/S. Rozario and Co., in London. In a room of Nilkuthi the library was started. Later it was handed over to the Maharaja Nripendra Narayan who removed the library to Lansdown Hall which is now the District Magistrate's Office in 1895. In 1882 the library was opened for public use.
The library grew richer and larger and became the treasure-island under the direct patronage of Maharaja of Cooch Behar, who sanctioned Rs.2,000 as annual grant for the purchase of books. Different punthis, manuscripts and rare documents of Raj-Darawabar or royal-court were transferred to this library for public benefit. J.W. Troten in his book India under Victoria speaks of this library, "the little State of Cooch Behar on Assam border could be act of a library richer than any to be found in Bengal outside Calcutta".
In 1900, the volume of books came to 8183 as shown below :
- English – 7,057 all books are first Edition
- Bengali – 600
- Sanskrit – 107
- Urdu & Persian – 111
- Modern Language – 130
- Manuscripts – 118
- Total – 8183
The library became the storehouse of important documents, reports, journals and rare manuscripts. Most of rare books and documents are centuries old. It became a treasure of the cultural heritage of Cooch Behar Kingdom.
Just on the eve of merger of Cooch Behr State with the Indian Union, the Library was run by five employees including a Librarian of gazetted rank. The library then was under the Director Control of the Minister in charge of the State Council. After the merger with the Union Govt., the library shifted under the control of the District Magistrate and the Government sanctioned only one Librarian and a peon.
In a joint meeting with the prominent citizens of the Cooch Behar town on 13-NOV-1967 in the chamber of the Deputy Commissioner (Cooch Behar) it was unanimously resolved to amalgamate the State Library with the District Library, Cooch Behar. The District Library of Cooch Behar was established in 1957 under the sponsored Library scheme. According to the above resolution in 1968, the then Deputy Commissioner, Sri Bhaskar Ghosh, I.A.S., on the plea of saving the library sent a proposal of amalgamation with the District Library to the D.P.I., West Bengal.
On the basis of his proposal government accepted the merger and renamed the Library as "North Bengal State Library".
At the time of merger on 1-APR-1969, volume of books of the erstwhile State Library and erstwhile Dist. Library are as follows : - State Library :
- English Books – 16,000
- Urdu Books – 180
- Arabic Books – 135
- Persian Books – 205
- Manuscripts(Bengali,Assamees,Sanskrit Languages) – 228
- Centuries-old bound magazines, Indian and foreign – 1,200
- Three-dimensional box Picture – 50 boxes
- Bengali books – 4,000
District Library :
- English and Bengali books – 12,000
The North Bengal State Library is situated in heart of the Cooch Behar town at the South-Eastern Corner of [Sagardighi] on M.J.N. Road.
North Bengal State Library presently boosts a collection of over 75,000 books and many ancient manuscripts.
Any local people can become a permanent member by paying a nominal fee any outsider can become a temporary member and can read books in the reading room.