Published: 10th February 2024
Centenary commemoration: Patna's Sinha Library marks 100 years of legacy
The heritage building and its modern block added a few decades ago, have been illuminated to mark the centennial occasion
Patna's famed Sinha Library, home to a rich collection of about 1.8 lakh books including some of the rare volumes from India and abroad, turned 100 on Friday, February 9, reports PTI.
A commemorative special cover marking the centenary of the landmark institution was unveiled by Chief Post Master General of Bihar Circle, Anil Kumar, at a function held at the historic hall of the library.
The heritage building and its modern block added a few decades ago, have been illuminated to mark the centennial occasion.
Located in the heart of the Bihar capital, the handsome two-storey old structure was established officially as the Srimati Radhika Sinha Institute and Sachchidananda Sinha Library, popularly known as Sinha Library. The institute was named after his wife.
Founded by Sachchidananda Sinha, the library was inaugurated by the then Governor of Bihar and Orissa, Sir Henry Wheeler on February 9, 1924, states PTI.
Sachchidananda Sinha, one of the prime makers of modern Bihar, was also the provisional president of the Constituent Assembly of India when it met in Delhi for the first time in 1946. The institution is run by the Srimati Radhika Sinha Institute and Sachchidananda Sinha Library Trust.
"The library has a rich collection of 1.8 lakh books and copies of some of the oldest newspapers from 1901 onwards. Today is a historic occasion and it is only fitting that a commemorative special cover marking the centenary of this iconic institution has been unveiled and released to mark these eventful 100 years," Sunil Kumar, a senior advocate in the Supreme Court who holds the chair of the trust, told PTI.
Kumar along with several other guests and some of the students who visit the library, attended the celebrations as the old portraits of Sachchidananda Sinha and Radhika Sinha adorned the walls.
The library is home to rare bibliographic treasures such as volumes on the Hansard debates held in the House of Commons in the UK, Parliament sessions of India, The Indian Review, The Calcutta Review, Sacred Book of the East volumes edited by Max Muller, Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology volumes.
According to PTI, old newspapers including copies of the early editions of The Leader, The Searchlight, and The Indian Nation, are also among its rare possessions that draw both students and scholars alike.
Kumar, while recounting the contribution made by the Sinhas, said Radhika Sinha's role was seminal in the foundation of the library as she provided a corpus of Rs 50,000 for the library and "Sinha sahab donated his personal collection of 10,000 books to begin with and more books later, and a matching fund of Rs 50,000 for the upkeep of the library".
Recounting an incident when Sachchidananda Sinha was studying for his law degree in London, Kumar said Sinha sahab once pointed out a mistake in a world-famous encyclopedia, and underlined it, which created a stir.
"It was later found that he had correctly pointed out the mistake. He was then asked to submit a copy of the encyclopedia without any marking instead of the one which he had put a mark on, and that encyclopedia in which he made the mark is still possessed by this library," he added, reports PTI.
In his address, Bihar Circle Chief Post Master General Kumar said, "This hall where we have gathered has heard the echoes of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and other luminaries".
"People should use libraries (and its reading halls) not just for preparation for competitive examinations, but also for general reading to enhance knowledge," he said.
The special cover released by him depicts a photograph of the old building of the library, its official name, and its day of opening, February 9, 1924, and the day of its centenary February 9, 2024.
Simi Samar Fazal, 75, who joined the library as a cataloguer in 1978 and retired as a librarian a few years ago, also attended the centenary celebrations.She unveiled a new plaque that commemorates the centenary of the library, embedded on a wall in the corridor of the hall.
Another plaque carrying the name of the first trustees of the institution has also been installed on the other side of the wall.
"I miss books, and I miss readers of this library. I am very emotionally attached to this library," Fazal told PTI.
She later got pictures taken with the life-size statue of Sachchidananda Sinha which was unveiled by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on November 10 last year.
Sinha, born on November 10, 1871, who served also as a Vice-Chancellor of Patna University from 1936-1944, lived in a palatial house — Sinha Kothi — located adjacent to the library, which later became the Bihar State Education Board office, and his family had shifted to a new building next door.
The road running in front of the library campus is called the Sinha Library Road.