For some time now Leela Garady and I have been facing some difficulties in the running of this Varadenahalli village library. The initial enthusiasm on the part of the teenagers gradually waned as they moved on to college and other pursuits. But the eagerness of the younger children to have access to the library remained undiminished. So Vani, a parent of CFL, and some students from CFL volunteered to do some activities and interactions. Those went very well but then after that the library lapsed into a closed state.
After some chats with various library workers in different parts of North India, there was the realisation that perhaps we need to loosen ‘our’ picture of a library and see how to make it blossom in the given situation. So yesterday I marched off to the library. Within minutes there was a vociferous crowd of children following me there. The “Pied Piper’ analogy was inescapable!
The place was dusty, the books strewn untidily on the shelves and there was a general air of disarray, so we set to work to clean the place and within minutes some older children set to work too and the young housewife, Tulsamma, began to put the books in order with efficiency! What joy to see that. After I told them a story and showed pictures, we talked about the best way to keep the library alive and used. There was a unanimous feeling that if it is DEFINITELY open on one given day, that would help a lot. So Tulsamma volunteered to do it on Sundays, two older boys were selected as back-ups and we were really off and running again. One boy made a poster to give the new timings. Others talked about returning books and a method to ensure that. There was such a wonderful feeling of working and thinking together.
I handed Tulsamma back the key. How happy she looked. She had devised a very organised way to track the borrowings and I do believe she is the right person to run the library. I hesitantly said, we would try to raise some money to give her some small stipend and I LOVED the way she said, “Ayyo, Sumne Iri. yenoo beda.”
Will we all live happily ever after?!!
Usha Mukunda. Sep. 28th 2013.