NIT Silchar builds a world-class archive, changes face of library

The proposed library under construction will be inaugurated in June 2016

Which university or educational institute in India boasts of a four storey, exclusive library building, flush with carpeted floors, lounge corners and a coffee shop? One that flaunts a spiral staircase right in the centre of the building and huge glass windows on the sides that overlook miles of greenery. And to think of it, all this is up and about to happen at NIT Silchar, a quaint little city in the heart of Assam.

The Central library at NIT Silchar was built in the year 1977 to provide academic assistance to the students of the institute. However, in recent years, the congested carpet area and lack of technological aid has made it increasingly difficult for the institute officials to manage the books and documents. To overcome these limitations of the existing library, NIT Silchar has entered into a collaborative MoU with the University of Illinois, USA to build a ‘State-of-the-Art’ library. Dr Kishor Satpathy, the librarian at NIT Silchar, says, “The old library building was constructed to accommodate 1000 people. With a gradual increase in the student intake over the years at NITS, the new library is built to cater services to more than 4500 people. Also, the new library will be technologically advanced to ease the administration processes.”

The new library building, built at a cost of Rs 44 crores, is spread over an area of 90,000 sq. ft. The four storey cylindrical building is designed in such a way that a common passage connects all the floors. This arrangement allows a single person to monitor the activities on multiple floors simultaneously, reducing the cost of employing more staff to volunteer the building. 90% of the architectural masterpiece is made up of anti-reflective glass which prevents direct sunlight and heat. However, the glass does allow sunlight to transmit enough to illuminate the library, allowing readers to read in natural light and cutting electricity cost during the day. The one-of-its-kind library boasts of a refreshment lounge for readers to socialise and relax. “We don’t want the library to be a static place. We want to make reading an affair to rejoice,” said Satpathy. Besides this, the building also has amenities like a conference room, group discussion rooms, a terrace garden library and a digital lab comprising of computers with Internet facility. The library will provide free services to the NITS students on producing their institute identity cards.

Students from other institutes may get free access to the library to read, but they will not be issued any material from the library. Moreover, under the facility of ‘loanable technology’, the institute plans to not only provide reading materials but also technological aid to underprivileged students to access the online study material. The institute, in its proposal, also claims to provide reading resources to the disabled visiting the library.

Yashksh Gaurav, a third year electrical engineering student said, “The institute faces many constraints because of its remote location. By signing an MoU with the University of Illinois, USA, NIT Silchar has enabled the students an access to a hub of books and journals, which otherwise was not possible. The architecture and amenities at the new library also makes it an interesting place to visit.”

Dr Satpathy further said, “Our library has membership with renowned libraries across the world. Under its inter-library rule, we can request another library for a book/journal if it is really important for the student.”

The library, built to conform to the ‘Look East’ policy of the Indian government, is expected to be inaugurated in the convocation ceremony at NIT Silchar in June 2016. As travellers from Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan frequently visit Silchar, which is also the gateway to states like Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura, this library may serve as a knowledge centre to students in the nearby institutes.

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