The Department of Mass Education Extension came into existence from the Year 1988 to look after all matters relating to adult education, non-formal education, education for children with special needs
(V.I, H.I. and M.R). and social education not connected with Higher Education. The pre-existing Department of Library Services was also merged with this Department which became the Department of Mass Education Extension and Library Services thereafter.
The Department administers its entire programme through:
1. Directorate of Mass Education and Extension
2. Directorate of Library Services
3. West Bengal State Literacy Mission Authority
Over the years the Department has undertaken various schemes and programmes relevant to its duties and responsibilities. With the advent of the Total Literacy Campaign in the districts followed by the Post Literacy Campaign and Continuing Education Programme, a systematic movement was launched against illiteracy in the State which, in turn, has ushered in a steady awareness for universalisation of elementary education. The West Bengal State Literacy Mission Authority has been constituted for planning, monitoring and supervision of matters related to literacy following the guidelines of the National Literacy Mission Authority. Since September 2009, the State has been implementing the Saakshar Bharat literacy programme which has been launched in the nine districts of this State having less than fifty per cent female literacy, with the financial assistance of the Union Government and State Government in the ratio of 75:25.
Achievements of this Department are reflected in the development and expansion of State Welfare Homes as well as State aided Social Welfare Homes for children and aided Destitute Welfare Homes for Girls above 18 years of age.
In order to impart education to adult learners there is a scheme of Adult High Schools in the State. At present 14 such Adult High Schools are functioning in the State.
Directorate of Library Services
West Bengal has a strong network of Public Library System comprising of total 2480 public libraries out of which 13 are Government Public Libraries, 2460 Govt. Sponsored Public Libraries and 7 Govt. Aided Public Libraries run by voluntary organizations.
Out of total Govt. Libraries, State Central Library is at the apex of the Public Library System in the State. Besides, there are 7 District Libraries, 4 Town / Sub-divisional libraries and one library of special status namely Uttarpara Joykrishna Public Library.
In addition, there are 2460 Govt. Sponsored public libraries which include 19 District Libraries, 232 Town / Sub-divisional Libraries, 2209 Primary Unit / Rural / Area Libraries.
Besides those, there are 319 Community Library cum Information Centres (CLICs), those were established in those Gram Panchayats where there is no Govt., Govt. Sponsored or Govt. Aided Public Library.
Amongst these 2480 Government, Govt. Sponsored and Govt. Aided Public Libraries, 344 libraries were established before independence, 418 libraries were established after independence upto implementation of West Bengal Public Libraries Act, 1979, and 1711 libraries were established after independence upto till date. Some libraries are age-old and bears their important role till date. Some of those are as follows:
|Sl. No.||Name of the Library||Name of the District||Year of Establishment||Nature of the Library|
|1||Rajnarayan Basu Smriti Pathagar||Paschim Medinipur||1851||Govt. Sponsored|
|2||Konnagar Public Library||Hooghly||1858||Govt. Sponsored|
|3||Uttarpara Jaykrishna Public Library||Hooghly||1859||Govt.|
|4||Mahesh Public Library & Free Reading Room||Hooghly||1869||Govt. Sponsored|
|5||North Bengal State Library||Cooch behar||1870||Govt.|
|6||Anriadaha Association Library & Litarary Club||North 24 Parganas||1870||Govt. Sponsored|
|7||Sreerampur Public Library and Mutual Improvement Association||Hooghly||1871||Govt. Sponsored|
|8||Chandannagar Pustakagar||Hooghly||1873||Govt. Sponsored|
|9||Ranigunj Public Library||Burdwan||1876||Govt. Sponsored|
|10||Mudialy Library||South 24 Pgs||1876||Govt. Sponsored|
|11||Rajpur Sadharan Paathagar||South 24 Pgs||1877||Govt. Sponsored|
|12||Palli Bharati||Howrah||1881||Govt. Sponsored|
|13||Rashpur Peoples Library||Howrah||1883||Govt. Sponsored|
|14||Bagbazar Reading Library||Kolkata||1883||Govt. Sponsored|
|15||Bally Sadharan Granthagar||Howrah||1885||Govt. Sponsored|
|16||Mohiary Public Library||Howrah||1886||Govt. Sponsored|
|17||Bansberia Public Library||Hooghly||1891||Govt. Sponsored|
|18||Sripur Kalyan Samity||Hooghly||1891||Govt. Sponsored|
|19||Singtore Palli Pathagar||Dakshin Dinajpur||1892||Govt. Sponsored|
|20||Bangiya Sahitya Parishad Library||Kolkata||1893||Govt. Aided|
Organising and administering the library services in the State:
For organising and administering Library Services there is a provision in the Act for an Advisory Body in the State level, i.e. State Library Council (SLC) which consists of 31 members under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Minister.
For organising and administering Library Services at the district level as per provision of the Act there is an Advisory Body in the district level, i.e. Local Library Authority (LLA) which consists of 22 to 24 members under the Chairmanship of concerned District Magistrate of the district.
For organising and administering Library Services at the library level as per provision of the Act there is an Advisory Body in the library level, i.e. Managing Committee (MC) which consists of 12 to 21 members.