Leaving the libraries in the lurch

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 POPULAR Inside the British Library.But the number of people who are in the habit of reading seems to be on the decline, especially those who visit reading rooms and libraries.

There are several libraries and public reading forums available in Bangalore but the reader base is dwindling by the day.

Says Charu Sapra, manager of the British Library in the City, “People know that reading is good for them. And they have many options to choose from, be it Internet or book stores. They prefer to read books in the comfort of their homes making libraries a less popular destination.”

This preference towards e-books arises from the paucity of time and hectic lives that most people lead today.

Seconding this, Keerthi says, “There are very few libraries near my house and if I have to go to one, I have to travel quite a distance which is not possible as I do not have enough time. So I prefer reading online or download the PDF of a book instead.”

The easy availability of books in stores has also spurred this downward trend. She adds, “I usually buy books to stock up on my collection of books as I can always go back to them when I need to read them in the future. In the case of libraries, it’s not possible.”

Unlike in the West, not many libraries in India are government-funded which makes it less profitable for people to open libraries and run them.

As Vishwanath, owner of Manasa Chintana Circulating Library says, “Seven years ago, you had at least 20 libraries in Vijayanagar. But now most of them have closed down due to decrease in the number of people coming in.”

Moreover, though there are quite a few libraries in Bangalore, not many are aware of them and do not know where to go to if they need to borrow a book. Says Charu, “There might be a sizeable number of libraries today but not many match the quality and standards one would expect from a good library. Also, most of them are not well-stocked and that gives book lovers another reason not to use the libraries. The onus of creating awareness about libraries is on the libraries themselves. We have to enlighten the people, especially the children, about the habit of reading and going to
libraries.”

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