The discussion about libraries in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is incomplete without talking about an important organisation known as Department of Libraries and Research. This organisation’s history can be dated back to as early as 1879AD, when the state’s first public library was launched. Today, this is a pioneer organisation as far libraries in the state are concerned. Apart from the amazing collection of books that are found here, there is ample space for reading for the visitors in the form of reading rooms. Free borrowing facilities and other attractive features are other services that attract the book lover to this place. The main objective of this organisation is to encourage reading habits among the young and the old, because there is no other habit that enriches one’s mind than the reading habit.

Real Time updates on Online Catalogue

The Department of Libraries and Research runs a huge network of libraries across the divisions and municipalities in the state. For the benefit of the large number of people who access these services, this organisation has made available an online catalogue, which lists out all the books and journals that are available with them. Through a click of the button, readers can search for the category of books they want, whether those books are available in their network currently and many other such real times updates that they would not have known otherwise in the absence of this online system.

Quantity of Books

This organisation is a repository of books. The book-management system is so perfect that the management can easily monitor the movement of books. There are two big libraries that are under the control of the Department of Libraries and Research. They are SRS Central Library and SPS Central Library, with 60000 and 40000 books respectively. Next on the list is the Oriental Research Library with around 29000 books. Next in the radar are all the District Libraries where there are books ranging anywhere between 10000 and 25000 in number. Libraries at the Tehsil or Municipality Level with books between 3500 and 6000 in number come next in the list.

Impressive Manuscripts Collection

One of the most impressive features about the Libraries and Research Department of Jammu & Kashmir is the huge collection of manuscripts that are stored in the Oriental Research Library located at Hazratbal. The total collections of manuscripts that are stored here stand at a staggering number of 5824, making it one of the largest manuscript collections of South Asia. People who want to borrow these manuscripts should first get the required permission from the Competent Authority pay the required amount of money and then take the copies, which should only be used for reference purposes and publications. All the manuscripts found in languages like Persian, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Turki, Arabic, Kashmiri, Dogri, Balti, Bakha, Hindi, Gojri, Pastu and Brij Basha have been automated.

Rules and Regulations of Jammu & Kashmir Public Library Reading Room

The reading rooms of all public libraries in Jammu & Kashmir are governed by the reading room rules of 2011. As per these rules, though the library is open to all people during its normal working hours, it is absolutely the discretion of the librarian to allow or disallow a person into the library. At any point of time, a librarian can ask a person to go out of the library if his behaviour is not acceptable as per the rules, or it disturbs the fellow-readers.  Readers are not allowed to take their pet animals along with them to the reading rooms. Similarly objects like umbrellas, sticks, suitcases and other heavy bags are denied entry. Once inside the library, people should observe pin-drop silence in order to respect the library decorum and their fellow-readers’ time.

Activities like smoking, spitting, sleeping, talking loudly, verbal duels, beating, playing music or any other loud activity is strictly banned inside the premises of the library. Readers should give due respect to the furniture and other infrastructure of the library. If they break any furniture, then they should compensate the library for any loss arising due the same.  An important point to note is that people should either switch off their mobile phones or put them on silent mode, once they are inside the reading room.  People who are continuously speaking on their mobile phones or have loud and jarring ring tones will be asked to vacate the library.


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