Ishvari Corea: a towering figure in library service

16 May 2019 12:19 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Ms Ishvari Corea at her desk during her younger days

 

Mrs Ishvari Corea, former Chief Librarian of the Colombo Public Library, who passed away on Tuesday (14) at the age of 94 had been a towering figure in the public and library service for more than 35 years.


Born on June 04, 1925 at Araliyagaha Walauwa in Bandaragama to the aristocratic family of Mr and Mrs D.B. Wijesinghe Kannangara, she had her primary and secondary education at Visaka College in Colombo and entered the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya.


After graduation, she joined the Colombo Public Library as Deputy Librarian in 1950. She received her postgraduate qualification from the School of Librarianship and Archives of the University of London and the Charter from the Library Association, UK.

 

Her appointment as Chief Librarian of the Colombo Public Library in 1961 was a landmark event that kicked off a rapid expansion of services of the Public Library

 

Her appointment as Chief Librarian of the Colombo Public Library in 1961 was a landmark event that kicked off a rapid expansion of services of the Public Library that included the opening of several branch libraries in the city and a mobile library service that immensely benefitted the children of low income families and the workers who could not spare time to call over at the Public Library.


Mrs Corea was largely instrumental in shifting the Public Library, located in a congested building (The present Mayor’s Centre) to the new building in 1981. If not for her guidance, locating the public library in a well-planned building would not have been a reality. The new building was declared open on December 1980 by then President J.R. Jayawardene and Prime Minister R. Premadasa. It is no exaggeration that the present Colombo Public Library was her brain-child.

 

Mrs Corea was largely instrumental in shifting the Public Library, located in a congested building (The present Mayor’s Centre) to the new building in 1981. If not for her guidance, locating the public library in a well-planned building would not have been a reality. The new building was declared open on December 1980 by then President J.R. Jayawardene and Prime Minister R. Premadasa. It is no exaggeration that the present Colombo Public Library was her brain-child

 

After shifting to the new building she further expanded the services of the public library by inaugurating an Audio-Visual Section, a Braille library providing free membership, the F.A.O Depository Library, the Box Library project sponsored by the UNICEF, for slum and shanty dwellers.


Another innovation introduced by her was the of extension programmes that included the story hour and handicraft sessions for children, preaching of sermons, and activities to encourage the reading habit.


Mr Corea had authored several books including “ Basic Manual for School Librarians” Manual of Public Libraries in Sri Lanka, Libraries and People”, “ Roads to Wisdom” and Treasures of Knowledge. 


She had been the President of Sri Lanka Library Association in addition to her duties as Chief Librarian.


Mrs Ishvari Corea will go down in the annals of public service as a visionary public servant who dedicated the whole of her life for the service of the country playing an unmatched role in imparting knowledge to the people through her distinctive professional skills.

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