Kanai Datta R.I.P

ALAG members were saddened by the recent death of long-standing member Kanai Datta, on Sunday 23rd October 2016.

Kanai first gained an MA in Bengali from Calcutta University and during his distinguished career as a Chartered Librarian, Kanai  worked for the British Library and the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta.  He then worked for many years for Tower Hamlets Libraries where he developed a successful schools service and authored and translated many bilingual children’s books. He was very well regarded by the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets and by everyone that he worked with..

After retiring, Kanai  founded Grantha Neer, a specialist firm which supplied books from and / or about both Bangladesh and India.  Kanai was instrumental in developing the CILLA cataloguing service in South Asian languages, for libraries in the UK and Europe.   Supplying catalogued books in the UK particularly, has helped the British library network to build a stock of recently-published South Asian books that is perhaps unique in the world.  The South Asian language books supplied by Grantha Neer  over the last 25+ years are still available today in UK public libraries and provide reading for pleasure, for education and for research.


Kanai has indeed left a legacy for future generations to enjoy and will never be forgotten by those who had the privilege to know and work with him. Aruna Shah, founder member of ALAG said this of Kanai:

He was an extraordinary man. There are many in the community and friends and colleagues who will mourn deeply his passing away as his was a life of service, kindness and compassion. 

I met Kanai in the early 1980s, professionally and we became good friends amidst the growth of Asian Librarianship in the UK. His contributions to Bengali culture, language and literature generally and the development of readers’ services in Tower Hamlets Libraries were immense. Kanai was a good friend to us and we will sadly miss him at our ALAG meetings. He always made it a point to attend the Group’s meetings till his health permitted. He got along well with people, avoided confrontation and had a great sense of humour. May he rest in peace.





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