Sarvajanik Vachanalaya Nashik is a very famous (public) library in Nashik. Although it started as a library, now it has become an inseparable part of the social and cultural life of the city, with its manifold programmes and schemes for the society – right from children to elders, from layman to scholars – in short for all cross sections of the society.
The library was founded in 1840. One of the pioneer libraries of Maharashtra, Sarvajanik Vachanalaya Nashik (SVN) has proliferated many libraries in Maharashtra. However the first reliable record viz. “Nashik Gazetteer”, which was published in 1883, throws light on the history of SVN. british ruled India, when this library was opened. The guess is that this library was started by the Government Officers and missionaries then. It was located initially in the “New Peshwe Wada” or “Sarkarwada”.
In 1885, when National Congress was established, the national movement became strong. Magazines inspiring impetus for freedom in the society started coming up. In December 1885, the membership of the library was 65. In 1890, news papers and magazines like Dnyanaprakash, Subodh Patrika, Kesari, Maratha, Sudharak, Shri Shivaji Kavyamala, Bakul , Bombay Gazette, Native Opinion, Amrit Bazar Patrika, India, Times of India, Indian Spectator etc. were regularly available in the library. In 1896 the addition of Sarvajanik Sabha Journal, Wealth of India, Industrial Quarterly Review, English opinion on India, Hindu, Graphic London made the collection of books versatile.
The year 1905 is very important for the library. V.D.Savarkar, Vaman Sakharam alias Babasaheb Khare and Poet Govind Darekar’s patriotic fervour and genuine love for literature made Nashik known in Maharashtra. Literature started being authored in the city. This influenced the readers and members of the library. british and missionaries gave up their membership then and local “natives” started using the library on a large scale. This made the library open to people and “public” in true the sense.
The current name of the library is evolved from the chain of names as “Nashik Library and Reading Room”, “Nashik General Library”, “Nashik City Library”, “Native General Library”. Some records show seals of “Native Library Nassick” in English and “Nashik Pustakalaya” in Marathi. In 1924, when the constitution of the library was rewritten the library was renamed to its present name “Sarvajanik Vachanalaya Nashik”.
It has received handsome donations from many sources. The Municipal Corporation has been a regular donor. State Government is giving some yearly donation. Zilla Parishad has helped Sane Guruji Kathamala. Maharashtra Government donated Rs 2 lakhs, Nashik Corporation donated Rs 50,000, Balaji Trust, Vyankatesh Balaji Sansthan gave Rs 50,000 for Swadhyay Mandir, Central Govt. gave Rs 30,000, Mr Kashinath Parshuram Saikhedkar gave Rs 75,000, Late. F H Dastur gave Rs 50,000, for the study room, Smt Kamlabai Panse donated Rs 42000 etc. In addition Rotary Club, Nizam Trust, Tata Trust, Lions Club, Mico Company, Janlaxmi Bank etc. also have contributed significantly.
From its establishment, numerous functions have taken place. e.g. on 10 January 1940, under the president – ship of the famous freedom fighter V D Savarkar, the centenary of the Library was celebrated.
On 31 May 1962, Maharashtra government donated a plot of High-school playground , free of cost to SVN. The foundation stone of the new building was laid at the hands of the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra – Mr Y S Chavan.
Mr K P Saikhedkar donated Rs. 75000 to SVN. The donation was received by Mahamahopadhyay D V Potdar. This donation was handy in construction of the auditorium, which is named after Mr Saikhedkar.
SVN carries out the many activities rather than just running the library. They are as follows.
SVN considers it to be their duty to hold exhibitions that throw light on literature and culture of the region. The first such exhibition was held on the occasion of the centenary of SVN. Exhibits of historical significance like manuscripts of the family members of Peshwas – the Maharashtra rulers of the 18th century, articles written by Ranganathswami Nigadikar, Jayaramswami, genealogy of Ramashastri Prabhune – Peshwa government’s Chief Justice, sculptures found in Nasik Region, photos of carvings and original old rare manuscripts, antique paintings etc. were displayed in the exhibition. In December 1967, on the occasion of State Library Conferences’ 19th Meet, rare old books, magazines, paintings were exhibited. Nashik’s contribution to literature was a particularly attractive stall of the exhibition. In 1970, on the occasion of Sane Guruji Kathamala’s meet, in addition to Nashik’s literature, literature for children was arranged separately. In 1990 on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the SVN, a meeting of the representatives of librarians was called and literature of the Dnyanpeeth awardee authors – Mr V V Shirwadkar and Mr V S Khandekar was displayed.
It has become an essential part of SVN’s activities to undertake projects related to authors, literature etc. on such occasions.
A series of lectures by eminent personalities was arranged as a part of Golden Jubilee Celebration of SVN, on progress made over last century in different offshoot of Marathi literature. Professors R.S. Jog, S.N. Banhatti, D.V. Potdar, Tarkateerth Laxmanshastri Joshi, T.D. Waknis etc. participated in this programme.
On the 61st Birthday of the great Maharashtrian poet Kusumagraj (Mr V V Shirwadkar), SVN published a book “Sahitya Sameeksha” (literary criticism) in his honour. This book received an award as the best edited book of the year, by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad.
On Kusumagraj’s 70th birthday, a lecture series in his honour was arranged. The topic was “Marathi literature from 1947 to 1960”. The lecture series was inaugurated by Professor Surendra Barlinge. Professor Pushpa Bhave, Mr Avinash Sapre, Professor M. S Patil delivered scholarly lectures in the series. Compilation of these lectures is published by Continental Prakashan of Pune.
To encourage advancement and development of Marathi literature, SVN gives some awards. Out of the donation received from Mr Raja Warti, the best storybook of Marathi is awarded Rs 2000 yearly.
Out of Behere Family’s donation, the best comic book receives an award of Rs. 1000 once in three years. Akolkar family’s donation produces a Rs. 300 award yearly for the best educational or thought provoking book. Gogate Brothers’ donation is utilized to give an award of Rs 2000 yearly to the best informative book. Apart from these, yearly three awards are given to poets from Nashik region. These awards are sponsored by Mr V.V. Shirwadkar and are named “Kavi Govind Paritoshik”. The best three stories from Nashik Region receive Dr A.W. Warti prizes.
A number of distinguished personalities have visited SVN. A complete list will run into pages. To name few, they are Bharatratna Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Senapati P.M. Bapat, Mr S.M.Joshi, Bharatratna Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve, Mahamahopadhyay P. V.Kane, Mrs Vijaya Mehta etc.
To enable any citizen of this country to have an access to books and learn by reading them, the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra started a scheme called “Zilla Vachanalaya” meaning library for a district. Under this scheme SVN was recognised as Zilla Vachanalaya and received a donation of Rs. 2000. This is being made use of by many responsive citizens.
A separate section for ladies includes books on culinary art, handicrafts, tailoring etc. However, compared to the population of ladies in the town, the number of readers is significantly low.
The Executive Committee of SVN had made provision for this section way back in 1947-48, by spending Rs. 12.12 on children literature. Although the sum spent sounds negligible now, their aim to inculcate reading habit in children must be appreciated. The readers number was slowly increasing till television came in common life. The invasion of TV has affected the growth of readers considerably.
Research on ancient, rare manuscripts is the main activity in this section. Till 1966-67, proper storage facilities , furniture were not available to preserve these manuscripts. In 1990, Central Government granted Rs. 1000. Many people donated old books and manuscripts to SVN. Then “Swadhyay Mandir” – which is a section specially dedicated to Sanskrit books , came into existence. Professor. Dr G V Deosthali, Mr V. Vakil etc. helped in making lists of these books. Mr D V Khandave has been taking care of this section with utmost care and love. The total number of old manuscripts is 10000, out of which more than 2000 have been classified and indexed so far.
To make SVN financially self-reliant, theater was built. The well-known architect, who was also the president of SVN – Mr G J. alias Nanasaheb Mhatre and his colleagues took initiative to fulfill this dream. This is being rented for functions and serves as a source of income to SVN.
Off late, Nashik has been growing very fast. In the heavily populated small town of Nashik, need of a quiet study hall for students was felt acutely. Appreciating this need, Dr V.S. Puranik created Study Room facility in 1968, in association with Lion’s Club, which was inaugurated at the hands of the Bombay Sherif Mr Soharabkhan. The number of member students in the first year was 225. Now it has increased to more than 900. On receiving donation in the memory of Dr V.G.Panse, a separate conference room has been constructed in this section.
In 1959, SVN opened its museum. Many a Nasikites have donated precious artifacts like antique glass paintings, paintings on Indian Classical music, Nasik’s map which was surveyed 100 years ago, statues, idols of copper and brass, shields, excavated artifacts, wooden and stone carvings, old photographs etc. In 1988 Mr L. Verma donated 230 old coins. Municipal Corporation has increased the beauty of this museum by donating beautiful paintings of famous artists.
In 1974, SVN was granted permission to conduct Librarian courses. People like V R Deshpande, R S Shahane, Professor K C Cholkar etc. have been helping as faculty in this venture.
In 1988 on receiving donation from Raja Rammohan Roy Foundation, a video/T.V. section was opened. Once in a week informative, educational cassettes are screened here.
Once hearing impaired and mute children were found conversing in their code language . Their conversation was interrupted by rain. After this incidence, SVN has made available to such children Dastur Hall for their regular gathering, which is on every Saturday. A movie on the life of hearing impaired and mute children in Hindi ,named “Koshish”, was also screened for them.
SVN thinks that the move to propagate knowledge is not limited only to maintaining library but also in arranging invited talks of scholars. Therefore, just as outside experts are invited to talk for the annual function, the occasional visits of experts are also taken advantage of. SVN arranges their lectures, which are open for all. E.g. the renowned journalist Achhyut Balwant Kolhatkar lectured on 26/5/1927. To name a few, who lectured for SVN are Professor Anant Kanekar, Pandit Mahadevshastri Joshi, Mrs Sumati Paigaonkar, Govind Talwalkar etc.
For those who cannot join college and are deprived of higher education, should get advantage of listening to experts, was the idea behind this scheme. Pune University took initiative to execute this programme in many places. The spectrum of subjects covered under this scheme is Atomic Energy and its applications, Introduction to Marxism, Challenges posed by Naxalites, India’s Industrial Policy etc.
In the busy and hectic schedule of date, many readers get confused as to what to read and where to get the books to read. To solve their problem, Group of Book-friends emerged. Introduction of popular books is given through lectures to this group by experts.
In 1966, SVN started Sane Guruji Kathamala. The membership for Kathamala was 1100 then. Many Marathi writers have been entertaining children by telling interesting stories on various subjects. To avoid monotony, many activities like magic show, Katthak Dance Recital, Tilgul distribution ceremony, variety entertainment, yoga demonstration, slide shows, one man show are also taking place. Apart from these, drawing, Rangoli competitions, interschool children drama competition, picnics etc. also are arranged. These activities are a real attraction to children and they participate in them very enthusiastically.
It was Dr A V Warti’s idea to invite writers and literature lovers on a Sunday in Navaratri and to enjoy literature. This was welcomed and supported by Mr V V Shirwadkar and the meet has been continuing for many years.
For leading meaningful life, society needs to be educated and profession of teachers should be honoured and respected properly. With this thought, Mr V V Shirwadkar put forth the idea of “Guru Gaurav” – felicitation of teachers. The selection of teachers for this honour is entrusted to the society rather than Government. Teachers from pre-primary to the level of college and teachers for the subjects like handicrafts, drawing, music, physical training etc. are also included under the scheme. It is over 25 years that this scheme is continuing. Yearly 25 to 30 teachers are honoured.
SVN has been extremely fortunate to have gained a host of dedicated workers to initiate and execute various schemes mentioned earlier. When Mr V.V. Shirwadkar took over as a president of SVN, the SVN entered into a very prosperous phase. SVN is indebted to V.V.Shirwadkar for this. For want of space the big list of such dedicated and capable workers cannot be given here.