Goa State Central Library (renamed the Krishnadas Shama Central Library in 2012) is the main library in the former Portuguese colony of Goa. It is located in Panjim (Panaji) and its website claims that it is the first public library to be set up across India, in the early 1830s.
Oldest in India
According to its official site, it is "the oldest Public Library in India" having been set up on 15 September 1832 in then Portuguese-ruled Goa by Vice Roy Dom Manuel de Portugal e Castro as the Publica Livraria of the Academia Militar de Goa (Military Training Institute). In 1836 the name was changed to Bibliotheca Publica. It was enriched with the repository transferred from the convents run by religious orders that had been suppressed in the 1834.
In 1836 itself, the library was shifted to premises where the Municipal proceedings were held. In 1870, it was named as the Biblotheca Publica da Nova Goa. The library was raised to the status of a National Library and renamed as Bibliotheca Nacional de Nova Goa in February 1897. Later it was renamed as the Bibliotheca National Vasco Da Gama.
By a decree dated March 18, 1956, the Privilege of Deposited Legal was made applicable to this library, making it entitled to all publications from Portugal and her overseas colonies. After functioning as an annex of the Institute, it was open for about 35 years. Kakodkar says that from September 1959, the library was put under the direct administrative control of the Services de Instruccao e Saude (Education and Health Services).
From Portugal, overseas "provinces"
In March 1925 it became part of the Instituto Vasco da Gama, an academic-cultural institution, and was renamed as the Biblioteca Nacional Vasco da Gama. By Decree Law 38684 of March 18, 1952, the Deposito Legal (Delivery Act) was made applicable to this library, according to its official website.
Resultantly, the library received all publications from Portugal and her overseas Provinces. From September 1959, the Bibliotheca was separated from the Institute and placed under the administrative control of Servicos de Instruccao e Saude (Education and Health Services) and renamed as Biblioteca Nacional de Goa.
On the completion of its 175th year, a first-day postal cover was released by the Government of India's Department of Posts. After the end of Portuguese rule in Goa in 1961, the library was renamed as the Central Library, and its activities expanded with lending, reference and special services for children. It build up its collection in English, Marathi, Hindi, Konkani and languages like Bengali and Urdu.
Its pre-1961 (Portuguese Goa) collection consists mainly of books and journals in Portuguese, French, Latin, English and a few books in local languages like Konkani and Marathi. Some 40,000 volumes date back to the pre-1961 era. Among other valuable texts, the Library holds incomplete collections of nineteenth and early twentieth century newspapers in Marathi, Konkani, English and Portuguese, published from Goa and from Bombay. Many of these are in a state of advanced disrepair.
The library used to be the repository institution for Mozambique, and for other Portuguese colonies in Africa until the 18th century. There are educational reports and other official publications regarding Africa in the library. A professional catalogue for these collections can be accessed from the website of the University of Aveiro, Portugal under the collection Memorias de Africa.
The library was first housed in the first floor of the Police Building in Panjim (Panaji), Goa's state capital. Since 2011, the library has shifted to its new premises in the Pato locality of Panjim, near the main bus stand. It is housed in a spacious, six-floor building designed by award-winning architect Gerard D'Cunha. News reports in April 2011 quoted officials of the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC) as saying that the Rs 32 crore (Rs 320 million) project comprises six floors and covers an area of 13,369 square metres.
Media reports have projected that the library "will have" over half a million books—over twice the previous number of the smaller library which was located in the heart of town—besides access to 200 magazines and 20 newspapers. Also promised (prior to the launch of the library) were full-automation in lending and receiving books using the LIBSYS software for library automation (LIBSYS allows for acquisitions or purchase of books; cataloguing and organising documents; serial control for periodicals; circulation including membership records and books issue and return; and article indexing to create a database of articles published in journals).
A special, user-friendly section has also been set up for children (on the second floor), a braille section for visually-challenged readers, an internet section. Officials were quoted saying that plans include "a facility for microfilming and a book preservation laboratory ... (among) the 27 sections that comprise the new centrally air-conditioned state library."
The library is open on all seven days of the week, including weekends, but is closed on public holidays only. It is also kept open during the lunch break, and its working hours are from 9.30 am to 7:00 pm, though it closes a little earlier on the weekends. Saturdays and Sundays the library remains open from 9:30 am to 5:45 pm.