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 tits duties and responsibilities. With 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. The Library Services in the State have reached the grass-root level. There are 2460 public libraries down to the village level which are sponsored by this Department. There exists a three library system in the districts namely - Rural/Primary Unit/ Area Libraries, Town/Sub-Divisional Libraries and District Libraries. Besides, there are twelve Government Libraries across the State. The State Central Library which stands as the Nodal Library of the State has seen a number of modernisation initiatives.
Parallel to this system there is a network of Community Library cum information Centres (CLIC) which have been established in those Gram Panchayats where there is no Government Sponsored Library.
For organising and administering Library Services in the State there is a provision in the West Bengal Public Libraries Act, 1979, for constitution of a State Library Council. The State Library Council in this State plays an immense role in the decision making process related to the library activities. Simultaneously, the Local Library Authorities (LLA) in all districts is the nodal body in respective districts.
Apart from this there are two institutions viz. Peoples (Janata) College at Banipur, North 24 Parganas and Peoples (Janata) College at Kalimpong, Darjeeling for imparting professional training in Librarianship.
This Department also plays the nodal role in co-ordinating the organisation of Annual Book Fair in every district to create and promote habits for reading books.
* Hon'ble Chief Minister has inaugurated one additional District Library at Siliguri in Darjeeling District namely "MATI SATHI" in the month of June, 2015.
* Library Day will be celebrated on 31st August 2015, at State Central Library, Kolkata.