THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 16 November 2018 (The purpose of a public library)

The purpose of a public library

Mains Paper 4: Polity
Prelims level: Public library
Mains level: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the
protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections


  •  There is a Delivery of Books and Newspapers (Public Libraries) Act of 1954.
  •  Since 1956, this statute hasn’t been substantively amended. (There were minor changes in 2005)
  •  It deliver at his own expense a copy of the book to the National Library at Calcutta and one such copy to each of the other three public libraries within thirty days from the date of its publication.”
  •  Those other three public libraries are Connemara Public Library, Chennai; Central Library, Town Hall, Mumbai; and Delhi Public Library.

About The National Library

  •  The National Library was originally called the Imperial Library.
  •  The name was changed in 1948. The Imperial Library was established in 1902 through a piece of legislation titled “The Imperial Library (Indentures Validation) Act”.
  •  This was “an Act to confirm and validate certain indentures made between the gricultural and Horticultural Society of India and the Calcutta Public Library, respectively and the Secretary of State for India in Council.”

Historical Context

  •  There was the private Calcutta Public Library (formed in 1836).
  •  As Governor General, Lord Metcalfe transferred some books from Fort William Library to Calcutta Public Library.
  •  Meanwhile, some government libraries were merged (in 1891) to form the older Imperial Library.
  •  After the 1902 statute, the Calcutta Public Library and the older Imperial Library were merged to form the new Imperial Library, now the National Library, in Belvedere House in Belvedere Estate.
  •  Viceroys and governor generals used to live in Belvedere House.
  •  Belvedere House (and the adjoining grounds) have a reputation for being haunted.
  •  The book I was looking for wasn’t available in the National Library.
  •  Evidently, data show, since 1954, only around 30 per cent of the books published are delivered to those public libraries.
  •  I presume the numbers are similar for newspapers. Penalties for violation are ridiculously low.

Way forward

  •  This is illustrative of a standard problem when we draft statutes.
  •  We tend to put everything into a statute, including stuff that should be in rules.
  •  If something is in the body of the statute, as penalties are in this case, you need a statutory amendment to make penalties realistic.
  •  However, if penalties are in rules, as they should be in all civil matters, changes can be made by the executive, without going to legislature.
  •  It except for purposes of information. However, in this particular case, I don’t think it is a simple case of jacking up penalties through legislative amendments.

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General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Consider the following statement about the Archaic laws.
A. A huge number of obsolete Acts remained in the law books despite losing their relevance and utility.
B. It has been only in the last three years that nearly 1,800 obsolete laws have been repealed.
C. These pieces of legislation may have been relevant and necessary at the time they were introduced, but in the absence of a periodic review they continue to burden the statutory corpus.
D. These laws are archaic mainly because the social, economic and legal conditions that required their enactment does not obtain today; they are also not in tune with the progress of democracy since Independence.

Which of the above is/are correct?

A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2NS
D. All of the above

Answer: D

Mains Questions:
Q.1) Archaic laws, more recent state legislation do not address the most important issue: What should their role be?