About Assam College Librarians' Association (ACLA)

Higher education in Assam especially college education has started its journey in the year 1886 in the Gauhati Seminary (at present well known as Cotton Collegiate School) with first year Arts Classes, which was affiliated to the Calcutta University. The first University in Assam i.e. Gauhati University was established in 1948 and at that time 15 (fifteen) non-government colleges were functioning in Assam. There were no other organizations except All Assam College Teachers’ Association (ACTA) for redressal of their grievances especially in Colleges. The Librarian was regarded as a mere store-keeper. Generally a person in clerical grade did the work of a librarian as part time job under the supervision of a College Teacher as in-charge of the Library.

However, under the personal care and guidance of a few distinguished scholar Principals like K K Handique, Trailokya Nath Goswami, Padmadhar Chaliha, Tirthanath Sarma, etc. have developed their libraries as treasures of selected books. Among them Pandit Tirthanath Sarma was an exception; by virtue of his professional qualification in Library Science and experience as Librarian of Cotton College, he built up the foundation of a functional College Library in Pragjyotish College, Guwahati. Till 1967 there were only three Colleges having professionally qualified Librarian i.e. BLib Sc or diploma in Library Science out of 94 (ninety four) Govt. Aided Colleges. Gradually the no. of qualified librarian’s were increased as Gauhati University has started BLib Sc and MLib Sc courses and hence qualified College Librarian’s like Sri Dilip Kumar Sarma (B Baruah College, Guwahati), Late Prabhat Chandra Mishra (Arya Vidyapith College, Guwahati), Sri Birendra Kumar Sarma (Pragjyotish College, Guwahati), Sri Byomkesh Biswas (Pandu College, Guwahati), Late Mahendra Nath Sarma (Nalbari College, Nalbari), Late Bhuban Mahanta (Gauhati Commerce College, Guwahati) started feeling of an association of their own in order to improve the services of the College libraries and the condition of library staff.

As a result 1st Convention of the College Librarian’s was held on 25th March 1973 in Nabin Bardoloi Hall, Guwahati under the Chairmanship of Sri Prabhat Ch. Mishra which was convened by all the persons mentioned above and Sri Dilip Kumar Sarma was the key person to organize the convention. The meeting anonymously resolved to form an Association called “Assam College Librarians’ Association” (ACLA). The first Executive of the ACLA was constituted with the following founder members and office bearers:

  1. Adviser - Sri Tirthanath Sarma
  2. President - Sri Prabhat Ch. Mishra
  3. Vice President - Late Mahendra Nath Sarma
  4. General Secretary - Sri Dilip Kumar Sarma
  5. Jt. Secretary - Sri Reba Bora
  6. Jt. Secretary - Sri Byomkesh Biswas
  7. Treasurer - Sri Birendra Kumar Sarma
  8. Member - Sri Ramesh Chandra Sarma
  9. Member - Jehir Ahmed
  10. Member - Md. Iqulol
  11. Member - Late Bhuban Mahanta
  12. Member - Sri Khargeswar Bora
  13. Member - Mrs. Shanti Das

Due to some unavoidable circumstances the ACLA had to pass days without any activity as its General Secretary Sri Dilip Kumar Sarma joined as Librarian in J B College, Jorhat and left Guwahati in 1975. By an emergent general meeting on 3rd April 1977 a sixteen member new executive committee was formed with following office bearers:

  1. President - Sri Prabhat Ch. Mishra
  2. Vice President - Late Mahendra Nath Sarma
  3. Vice President - Sri P D Rajkhowa
  4. General Secretary - Sri Birendra Kumar Sarma
  5. Jt. Secretary - Sri B Nath
  6. Jt. Secretary - Sri Birendra Nath Sarma
  7. Treasurer - Sri M Kumar
  8. Member - Sri Dilip Kumar Sarma
  9. Member - Sri Ramesh Chandra Sarma
  10. Member - Sri K C Talukdar
  11. Member - Sri Byomkesh Biswas
  12. Member - Late Bhuban Mahanta
  13. Member - Sri R K Baruah
  14. Member - Sri R Bora
  15. Member - Ms. Majula Devi
  16. Member - Mrs. Mayashila Hazarika

The main aim and objective of the Association are to strive for and contribute towards the all round improvement of the library services for the cause of education system within the state in general and collegiate education in particular, to safeguard the interest of the members of the Association and improve the service condition and status, to render necessary help to the distressed member of the Association and their families, to promote study and formulate principles for expansion of education through the library by holding seminars, publishing bulletin and journals for the purpose, and to maintain and keep the Association away from political involvement.

During this period the Association was registered under Society Registration Act 1860 of Govt. of India vide Regd. No. 164 (1977-78). The committee has submitted its first memorandum to Sri Hiteswar Saikia, Chief Minister of Assam demanding
i) Implementation of UGC scale of pay w.e.f. 01-01-73
ii) Acceptance of staff norms for College libraries and sanction of post
iii) Deputation of existing graduate College Librarians to BLib Sc course
iv) To stop appointment/ approval of graduate Librarians
v) Provision of DA/ TA to the College Librarians with permission to participate in National level seminar and workshop, etc.
vi) Provision of pay protection in case of transfer/ new assignment within the Education Dept.
vii) Declaration of service rule for the College Librarians and most of the demands were fulfilled by the state Govt.

On 31st March 1979 in the Annual General meeting a new Executive Committee was formed with Prof. Ajit Kumar Sarma, M P as well as a multifaceted personality as President of ACLA. In 1980 the Govt. accepted a staff norm and accordingly the Govt. sanctioned 34 posts of Library Assistant and 62 posts of Library Bearer in 54 Colleges w.e.f. 01-01-1980. In 1982 the staff norm was revised and one post of Assistant Librarian was sanctioned to the Colleges having thirty thousand books in the Library or more than that. It is mentioned that during the crucial period of movement for UGC scale of pay the President and Secretary were Prof. Ajit Kumar Sarma and Sri Birendra Kumar Sarma. The great contributions of Prof. Sarma in raising the status of the Association to high esteem and value will remember with deep respect. Prof. Sarma embellished the ACLA as its President for long 14 years and more than four years as Advisor. Sri Berendra Kumar Sarma also embellished as General Secretary of ACLA for long twelve years at a stress on demand of the members of the Association for his dedicated service.

Sri Dilip Kumar Sarma, Librarian, J B College, Jorhat and founder Secretary of the ACLA took initiative to organize the first general conference of the Association in J B College, Jorhat with a three day programme from May 21 – 23, 1982 and a UGC sponsored seminar was held on “Role of College Librarian in the present education system” and “Problem of Classification – whether DDC or simplified CC is essential?” A fifteen member executive committee was constituted with Prof. Ajit Kumar Sarma as President and Sri Birendra Kumar Sarma as General Secretary.

The full fledged and independent Dept. of Library and Information Science was started from 01-09-1983 at Gauhati University under the dynamic headship of Prof. Alaka Buragohain. Prof. Buragohain has tremendous contribution specially for implementation of UGC scale of pay to the College Librarians of Assam. In active cooperation of the Dept. of Lib. & Inf. Sc., Gauhati University, a eighteen member delegation of the ACLA under the leadership of Prof. Alaka Buragohain met the Hon’ble Education Minister Sri Brindaban Goswami on 5th March 1986 and the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam Sri Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and submitted all necessary documents and both the Ministers were assured that necessary step would be taken on the matter.

The ACLA it its extended executive meeting held on 07-09-1986 under the Presidentship of Prof. Ajit Kumar Sama unanimously decided to resort for agitation in protest against the apathetic attitude of the Govt. towards the College Librarians with the cooperation of different organizations like AASU, AGSU, ACPC, ACTA, GUTA. Ultimately after long nine years of struggles the Govt. of Assam during the ministry of AGP declared UGC scale of pay for Librarians of Colleges under Deficit Grants in Aid system with effect from 01-01-1973 notionally and financial benefit w.e.f. 05-08-1987. ACLA thanks to Hon’ble Ministers of Govt. of Assam, Bureaucrats, all the organizations and distinguished persons who come forward to help ACLA in its movement for implementation of UGC scale of Pay for College Librarians.

Note: This is a part of the article “Looking Back on Assam College Librarians’ Assaociation (ACLA)” prepared by Dr. Dhrubajit Das.

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Message from President

Assam College Librarians’ Association (ACLA) is actively engaged for the collective interest of the librarians in particular and of the entire educational scenario of the State of Assam in general. Ever since its inception ACLA has been doing its utmost for the all round development of the Library professionals in terms of quality services to the readers. Above all, ACLA has been adopting a holistic approach towards improving the reading habit in the students. We look forward to fulfilling all the sincere endeavours of ACLA towards creating a citizenry endowed with knowledge and wisdom from a great library and a good reading habit. Let us work unitedly towards this goal.
Srimonta Madhab Bora

Message from General Secretary

Dear Readers, Greetings from ACLA. ACLA is committed to the College Librarians of Assam but at the same time also recognize the need and expectation of the user community. A library is a place where effective, meaningful and joyful learning take place and we are committed to improve this environment.
Dr. Prasanta Kumar Deka
General Secretary

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