A Confluence of Ken and Cosmopolitan Culture: Maulana Azad Library in AMU

Maulana Azad Library in AMU

I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library because library, as we know, is a powerhouse of productive knowledge and vibrating ideas.  Maulana Azad Library of AMU in Aligarh is not only the powerhouse of knowledge and vibrating ideas but also a springhead of inspiration, hope, liveliness, wisdom, secular culture and many other tenable things. Knowledge seems to trickle down from the walls of the library. I experienced this all, as a Ph.D Research Scholar of the Department of English, AMU.

 Maulana Azad Library is the largest University Library in Asia. It has seven large and spacious storeys. It was established in 1877 as Lytton Library and in 1960 it was formally inaugurated and re-christened as Mulana Azad Library after the name of the first Education Minster of India, Abul Kalam Azad. The library is the storehouse and reservoir of books, journals, manuscripts etc. You can find books and journals on every subject. Besides this, the scholarly dissertations and theses of the scholars are there in the separate section for the future scholars to peruse. There are separate reading rooms both for research scholars, undergraduates and others.

The reading culture in the library is awe-inspiring and all the more interesting. I was quite inspired to see retired professors always engrossed in reading books in the library. Seeing the retired professor and other teachers so passionate about gaining new knowledge and reading new books, motivated me to sit for long time in the library and read books. The staff of the library is cooperative and friendly. I have always seen them on toes to help the students in every which way.

I visited AMU for the first time in October 2014. The only purpose of the visit was to appear for Ph.D Entrance Exam (English). I reached AMU Campus at around 3: PM by train. I was received by Dr. Mudasir Irfan who was pursuing Ph.D in the Department of Botany. He took me to his room number 08 in the famous Sir Zia Uddin Hall. On reaching there, I took a shower and slept for some time to ease out the weariness of the long journey from home to Aligarh. As I awoke, it was evening. Mudasir Irfan took me outside for a cup of tea. I enjoyed the tea in the company of Dr. Mudasir Irfan and his other fellow scholars, the scholars full of passion and innovative ideas.

 After finishing tea, Mudasir Irfan and I decided to visit Maulana Azad Library. As we reached the front gate of the library, I was mesmerized to see the swarm of scholars. Some were coming out of the library and some going inside the library. On stepping inside, we entered the Research Division (RD). The division of the library where research scholars sit and peruse books relevant to their areas of research. I sensed calm and aura of discipline emanating from the walls as well as from the poised faces of scholars. All the scholars were engrossed in their research endeavors. Seeing all this, I was quite impressed and prayed to God there and then for my selection in the University for pursuing research there so that I could get a chance to sit in the library and read new books and good scholarly articles in order to smarten myself with novel ideas and to learn about the concept and ideas alien to me. The next day, I appeared in the entrance exam. On the completion of the examination, I started exploring the campus and was hugely impressed by everything I came across.  Everything I looked upon seemed so blessed and so blissful.

After the entrance exam, the University declared result and I was shortlisted and called for the interview for the final selection.  I faced interview with full preparation and confidence. And after some days, the final selection list came out and I was selected as a research scholar. After completing the admission formalties, the actual research journey started. I selected the research topic, submitted the synopsis and was put under the supervision of Prof. Rashmi Attri under whose tutelage I learned lot many things.

To continue the research journey, like other scholars of the University, I would sit in the library from morning till late evening with intermittent gaps to have a cup of tea outside with my friends in order to shake off the ennui and relax the mind. The cultures of discipline, catholicity, plurality, friendliness, secure and secular environment are the defined insignias of the university in general and that of the library in particular. One can sense and smell all these characteristics everywhere within and without the premises of the university. The chai culture at Daba’s where students of varied tastes, religions, nationalities and communities sip tea and discuss hodge-podge of things together with conviviality and cooperationstands out an excellent example of cosmopolitan culture.

I am indebted to Maulna Azad Library for many things. It has enhanced my interest in books. My love for books started when I for the first time entered the well-equipped and enlightening ‘Research Division’ of the library in 2014 to start my research work. It was love prima facie. As I saw the stacks and stacks of books related to every discipline, I was impressed beyond measure. That very experience enhanced my interest in books.

 It has given me everything I looked for in its well-equipped stacks. It has mothered my mind with its good reading culture and friendly environment. The culture of silence and discipline pervading there has taught me how to remain focused on the studies. The blessed walls of the library have given scholarly succor to my dull mind; the walls I would love to kiss with kindness!

Dr. Bilal Ahmad Dar is a lecturer in English.. He did Ph.D and M.Phil in English literature from AMU. Besides, he has qualified UGC-NET and JKSET for Assistant Professorship. He can be mailed at: [email protected]

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