Kochi: Book reading as a habit still survives in the hinterlands of Kerala despite changes in entertainment modes brought about with the advent of television and internet.
The success of a defunct bus waiting centre which was turned into a makeshift weekly library is testimony to this. The T S Murali Memorial Open Library is functioning near Vaduthala railway gate since the past eight months on Sundays. It was inaugurated on October 22, 2018 after the waiting centre became orphaned with a change in the bus route.
Started with just 100 books, the library now has 600 titles. The first 100 books were purchased; the remaining 500 came as donations. Progressive Arts & Literary Organisation's Vaduthala unit workers are behind the library.
The books are kept at the house of Sajan, who lives nearby. On Sunday morning, the books are brought to the bus stand. One can enter his or her name in the register and take home a book. When the book is returned, it has to be entered in the register.
On average, 50 people borrow books from the library. “If there is a day when nobody turns up, we will close it," says one of the officebearers K R Muralidharan. But that day is not going to come soon. The library is expanding its reach by conducting literary quiz programmes, review contests, sharing reading experience and others.
Mundangamattom: When it started, the library had a small room with 150 books stuffed inside a crate. Now it is the cultural centre of Mundangamattom village. The library was set up in 1972 and is functioning out of half-an-acre land. The A-plus grade library has around 20,000 books and 750 members. The library has an e-vigyan kendra. Its groups for the elderly, women and children are very active. Two hundred and fifty elderly persons are provided lifetime pension by the library with the help of villagers. It also delivers books for women at the doorstep of their homes. Last year, it won the best library award from the Aluva taluk library council.
Mulanthuruthy public library
Mulanthuruthy: Not only for literary and history books, students can rely on this library for medical studies too. As part of the reading week, a medical library is being inaugurated here. Books that provide information regarding medical sciences will be available here.
Sourced from several countries, the 150 books, which were used by the late Dr Johns P Mathews of Mulanthuruthy in Palakkad, are now available in the library. After the death of Dr Johns Mathews, his wife Dr Mary John donated the books to the library. Before that, the library had general, reference, English and children's sections. The library has hi-tech cataloguing and distribution systems.
EMS Cooperative Library, Kakkanad
Kakkanad: The data from EMS Cooperative Library shows that though teenagers go crazy after social media, they are not leaving behind reading. In the last one year, 800 students have become members of the library. However, more than books that help in studies, children go for general reading. Majority of the members are in the 12-15 age group.
Established two decades ago under the aegis of the district cooperative bank, the library is a known cultural centre too. It has 15,097 members and 90,473 books. The custodian of the personal book collection of M Krishnan Nair, the library has a special section for them. It has hi-tech facilities, including audio formats of scanned books for visually challenged people.
Letters that took a rebirth
Paravur: Twenty-five out of 27 libraries that were destroyed in the floods last year have been renovated. Books that were destroyed have been replaced with new ones. It is estimated that books worth Rs 90 lakh were destroyed in the floods. Equipment like computers, mike sets, inverters and others were also damaged. The 85-year-old Chendamangalam Nair Samajam Library itself lost about 14,000 books.
Some of those books included over 100-year-old ones and rare works. It managed to collect 3,000. The Gothuruthy village library lost 7,000 titles. It too has managed to collect 3,000 books. Libraries that suffered damages such as Vavakad Gurudeva Library, Kadungalloor Mangalodayam Library, Chathedam Thiruvathippuram Village Library, Sadgamaya Library Koottukad, Paravuthara Public Library, Kumaramangalam Asan Memorial Library and Moothakumman Asan Memorial Library all up and running now.
Vayanamuttam Vayanashala Udayamperur
Udayamperur: Kudumbashree and literature? Well, dispelling doubts about the literary leanings of Kudumbashree, the state's women empowerment and poverty eradication mission's Vayanamuttam Vayanashala has entered the second year of its successful existence. The library includes the Kudumbashree members of the ward number 18, four elderly neighourhoods and four children's groups.
The library has about 600 books. The Vayanamuttam is led by ADS chairperson Praveena Sunil. A room in Praveena's house has been converted into the library. All Kudumbashree units in the ward have started reading books. Members can't just take books and return them without reading; because the monthly gatherings will discuss the books read by members.
Tagore Library, Karuvelipady
Mattancherry: Tagore Library, which had organised the largest number of activities related to reading and other people's issues, is one of the best libraries in west Kochi. The women's wing with its monthly women empowerment seminars, editor's forum with discussions on general issues and the children's wing with its general knowledge programmes are quite active here.
Every week, children are introduced to new books that are launched and main news reports that appear in newspapers are taken up for discussion. Reports that appear in Malayala Manorama's Padippura and others are discussed at the general knowledge programmes. To inculcate awareness about literary works, it has a programme called 'Ezhuthupetti'. An Ezhuthupetti was set up at Thoppumpady St Sebastian's School during the Reading Day.
Sahithyaposhini Vayanashala, East Kadungallur
Aluva: Everything is 'cool' at East Kadungallur Sahithyaposhini Vayanashala. In the district, this is the only library that is air-conditioned. The installation of the air conditioner has resulted in a rise in the number of visitors, say office-bearers. The reading room was airconditioned when it was renovated at a cost of Rs 5 lakh after the floods. Since the library is under the cooperative bank, the fund was provided by the bank. Otherwise, the 75-year-old library might have become history with the floods. After the floods, publishers donated 2,000 books. Books were also bought using the grant from the library council. Weekly and monthly publications are sponsored by local residents. It also holds the honour of being the first library started under a cooperative bank in the state.
Gramakshemam Library Manjapra
Angamaly: Manjapra Gramakshemam Library offers enough avenues to read and grow. In order to boost reading habit, the library offers free membership for students up to class 10, holds reading contests, and provides home delivery of books. A 'kudipallikoodam' has been set up to promote Malayalam.
Library committee members visit houses and collect books under its 'Love my library' project. A reading club was set up on the Reading Day. It will also start a weekly programme that will discuss a variety of topics this month.
General Hospital Vayanakoottam
There is a place to read at Ernakulam General Hospital. It has been set up under the leadership of a group of teachers and students of Maharajas College. The idea was proposed by the college unit of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, said the unit's secretary and history professor M H Ramesh Kumar. The NCC unit in the college too offered support.
The aim of the initiative is to provide patients and those taking care of them some comfort in the form of books. The book shelf has been set up at the ENT OP section of the hospital.
Books of Malayala Manorama Publications are also available here. It is planning to set up book cupboards in every ward. They are getting the support of the hospital superintendent and other officials in this initiative. In future, when the hospital gets a new building, space will be allotted for setting up a reading room.
Children's books at a discount
Kerala Book Mark will organise a reading week until June 26. As part of the function, books published by the Kerala State Institute of Children's Literature will be offered at 30% discount at the Book Mark's branch at Boat Jetty Revenue Tower. The timing is from 10 am to 6 pm. Secretary A Gokulendran said that books published by government establishments will also be available at a reduced price. (Ph: 0484-2374913.)