An online lending library delivers books home to kids

If Karunya wants to borrow books, she switches on her computer, presses a few buttons and makes a wish! The books will reach her the very evening. Once upon a time, she would have had to travel all the way to the lending library. Not any more, thanks to Long, Long Ago, an online lending library. The one-of-its-kind online library in the city is the brainchild of N.Hariraj, an IT professional.

When Hari and his wife Kavitha returned to India after over 10 years in Germany, they found there were hardly any books available for their daughter Niveditha. In Munich Nivi would devour books. “Every region in Germany has a library that is run by the government,” Hari says. “There is so much for kids to read there.” Finding it was not so in their new hometown, Hari set up an online library for children.

Child friendly

He designed a website that would enable children to pick the book they wanted to read. The book would be delivered to them at home, and once they were finished with it, it would also be picked up from home. Visiting a library was never so easy. Hari explains the system. “Log on to our website and create a profile for your child. You can then browse through our extensive library and select the required books . They will be delivered to you in person the same day.” The library has members from as far as Tirupur and Erode. Hari has set up offices in Coimbatore, Chennai and Bangalore. They also plan to extend their service to Pollachi and Sathyamangalam. “We courier the books to outstation members,” he adds.

Kids will love the website. Puffy clouds float across and a baby elephant pours over a stack of books. Shelves-full of colourful pop-up and touch and feel books with sparkly covers light up the Coimbatore office. But this is just a small part of our collection, says Hemalatha Ramesh, the Business Development Manager.

Long Long Ago has everything from classics and picture books to grammar, chemistry and poetry. There are also Tamil titles such as Paappa paattu, Raja Kapilan, Amudha Mozhi, Enadhu mudhal mazhazhai paadalgal, Vivasayiyin Mahabaratham, etc. “We also have books in other languages that include Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Punjabi Bengali, Marathi and Gujarathi.”

The library categorises books according to a child's age, theme and characters. The website makes browsing fun and easy. There are a total of three plans. ‘Zebra' and ‘Rabbit' let you borrow the books for ‘As long as you wish'. The library is open to recommendations. “If a parent recommends a book, we try our best to source it. We are in constant touch with them and regularly invite feedback,” he says. “Also, we try to introduce our readers to one new book every time an order is placed. This is so that they don't always go in for the same old titles,” he adds.

Long Long Ago has over 3,000 titles. According to Hemalatha, the library has plans of conducting storytelling sessions and workshops for teachers so that they inculcate reading habits in children. They will also conduct workshops to brief teachers and students on the working of the website later this year. Within six months of the launch, the library has acquired about 150 members.

Three of those members are sisters Kannammai, Nithya and Krithika. Nithya loves adventure books, Krithika reads anything with Amelia Jane in it and Kannammai reads books on Science. Long Long Ago has them all, they say. Ten year-old Karunya says she has learnt to browse and order books from the website herself. “It's easy,” she says. “My brother Karthik Govindan and I browse together.” Karunya has already read 18 books this summer from Long Long Ago. “I also pick a book for my brother and read it to him.”

“Their collection is enormous,” says Shuba Viswanathan, mother of three-year-old Sameeya. “I've been reading to my daughter ever since she was four months old. Earlier, I had to send for books from the U.S.” Now Long Long Ago delivers the books to her. “My daughter enjoys character-based books and the library has a lot of those. Also, their books are so neatly bound and laminated. This talks about their love for books.”

Visit them at http://www.longlongago.in/. For details, call 8056236199