Central Secretariat Library (CSL) under the Ministry of Culture is one of the largest tangible treasures of knowledge next to National Library, Kolkata for Indian and foreign document resources. CSL’s resources are an amalgamation of many old institutions including the resources of Imperial Secretariat Library, Calcutta that came into existence in 1891 during the period of Lord Curzon and validated by the Imperial Library Act of 1901. The Act stated that ‘ It was intended that it should be a library of reference, a working place for students and repository of material for the future historians of India, in which, so far as possible every work written about India at any time can be seen and read’. F.W. Forester, Curator of the Imperial Records Office, assembled about one thousand volumes lying about in the Writer’s Building, Calcutta received under the press and Registration of Books Act, 1867. This collection along with variety of collections belonging to other secretariat libraries located in that building was named the Imperial Library which was inaugurated on 11 th May 1891. The collection of the Home Department was the most important collection which merged with the Imperial Library. Books formerly belonging to the libraries of East India College, Fort William College and the East India Company Board in London formed part of the collection. When under the Imperial Library Act, a new Imperial Library was established, the entire collection of the erstwhile Imperial Records Office was not transferred to new library rather a portion of the collection was with the Imperial Secretariat Library, to distinguish it from the Imperial Library, and which continued to function in the Writers’ Building.
The Imperial Secretariat Library was transferred to Delhi in 1912 with the shifting of the Capital to Delhi and was housed in the Old Secretariat Building, Civil Lines Delhi. In 1913, part of the collection was moved to Shimla Secretariat. With the inauguration of the new Secretariat in New Delhi on 10th February 1931, the Imperial Secretariat Library was moved into North Block, and the Secretariat Library which was functioning in Shimla was also amalgamated with the Imperial Secretariat Library. On 1st April 1948, the library was named as Central Secretariat Library. In 1969 the Library was shifted to the newly constructed Shastri Bhawan, housing the Ministry of Education, the ‘G’ wing of the building was allotted to CSL.
During 1958-59, CSL was under the control of the Central Education Library of the post independence period, and was earlier known as Bureau of Education Library under the Bureau of Education, Department of Education, Health and Lands during the imperial government. It was shifted to North Block in 1933. Few more mergers took place. Unesco Library was merged with CSL in 1949, Scientific Research and Cultural Affairs library was merged in 1950, and rare and valuable collection of about 1600 volumes of distinguished personalities and reference books was donated by Sir G. Friendly Shiras to the CSL.
In 1974, to commemorate the quadri-centenary of Goswami Tulsi Das, an eminent saint poet of Indian literature, a Regional Language Library was set-up. Another branch library at R.K. Puram was established to provide readers service to the government servant working in R.K. Puram. Till 1971 the CSL was under the control of the Department of Education, Ministry of Education and in 1972 it was shifted to Department of Culture which was part of the Ministry of Education, then Ministry of Human Resource Development and now under the Ministry of Culture.
Professional Staff Structure of CSL and its Branches
CSL is one of the offices of the Ministry of Culture and its budgetary allocation are being done as part of the Secretarial Expenditure. The Bureau Head is the Joint Secretary looking after the affairs of the Libraries under the Ministry of Culture. All financial approvals are being routed through the Bureau Head to the Internal Finance Division (IFD) for its concurrence. The salary component is part of the Department’s expenditure and all service matters and personal file of individual employee is being handled by the Library Section of the Department. The overall day to day control and management of the library is in the hands of the Director, CSL.
As on date CSL has a collection of about 8.5 lakhs printed and non-printed documents organized into different viable divisions. CSL has two more branches located in Tulsi Sadan at Bhawalpur House, which has about 2.25 lakhs strong collection in Hindi and other Indian official language and a branch at R.K. Puram having a collection of 27,000 documents to cater to the needs of government employees. Tulsi Sadn Library is temporary closed as the National School of Drama is constructing new building.
The resources of Central Secretariat Library has been divided into following units/ divisions: The resources of the Main Reading Area located in the ground floor of CSL main complex contain a strong reference collection for quick retrieval of information through encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, yearbooks, etc. in different spheres of knowledge. The Reference Division has about 20000 volumes and they are being updated on a regular basis. It has also the general collection of about 42000 documents which provides theoretical exposure to various subject disciplines of social science and humanities available in English language and has a strong collection of 40,000 Hindi language documents.
The resources of Area Studies Division has about 85,000 volumes and has been organized on the basis of documents having emphasis on a geographical region. This division is one of most used division in CSL where one can trace documents even for a smallest district or town in India. Documents of almost every subject concerning the socio-economic and political condition of India and its regions are available in this division. The biographical collection, the collection having emphasis on gender studies, the collection of different countries of the world are some of the strongest asset organized in this division. The rare document collection having a strength of about 6,500 documents is an asset of this library. Its collection dates back to 1702. It has always been the endeavour of CSL to strengthen its area studies collection to provide more and more focus on concept of Indiana.
In 1984 through the office memorandum of the Cabinet Secretariat, the CSL was declared as a depository library for all government documents. The Indian Official Document Division is exposed with the collection of various Ministries, Departments, Subordinate Offices of the State and Central Government. The Division has about 80,000 bound volumes of valuable documents. The official publications in the form of annual administrative reports, budget and plan documents, civil lists, census reports, legal documents, official directories and handbooks, commission and committee reports, etc. has been stored from inception. It has a strong collection of Government of India Gazette of post independent India and it is being updated regularly. The Gazette of few state governments are also available. The parliamentary documents are available in hardbound and also in microfilm form. The gazetteers and Acts of Government of India too deserve special mention.
The Foreign Official Document Division comprising of about 60,000 documents has a rich collection of different international organizations such as United Nations, UNESCO, UNDP, British official publications including Hansard and US Government Official documents including US Congressional digests. All such publications are available in hardbound and in machine-readable form.
The Serials Division of CSL has been making available the nascent information through 52 newspapers of Indian and foreign origin, and through 226 periodicals. Most of the periodicals which are being subscribed are general nature periodicals providing current exposure to various issues. Some of the Indian newspapers like Times of India (1950 to 1987) and Navbharat Times (1956-1998) are also available in micro form for the research scholars
The Non-Print Material : CSL has been entrusted with the responsibility of collecting all possible published official documents in micro form available in other countries. CSL has made a concerted efforts to develop non-print media collection especially for research purpose. The Micro-films were acquired from the Oriental Division of India Office Library under this programme. In addition, CSL had collaborated with the Library of Congress to get some of the valuable documents microfilmed which are available in different libraries in India. As on date the Microfilm unit of CSL has about 3544 microfilm rolls for access through one micro-film reader cum printer.