Siragugal, is a library with a difference. It is crowd-sourced and it’s free.

Kalyani Chidambaranathan has a story to tell... A group of like-minded friends got together to do what they could with their time for children studying in municipal schools. They gave English lessons in the evenings. “The kids looked at the books with wonder when they came home,” says Kalyani.

This is how the idea took root. “What if we have a library for these kids?” What started out as a small initiative has grown into something more definitive — a place where kids can come everyday and read. Siragugal, a crowd-sourced library in Udhagamandalam, is targeted at students mainly from municipal schools. It is open after school hours from 4 to 6 in the evening.

Kalyani, secretary of Siragugal, spoke to some friends and relatives who agreed to donate books. She then posted the idea on a UK website, PledgeBank. People responded by donating books which arrived in parcels.

Helping hands

The Vidyarambam Trust in Chennai provided material to teach children how to read in Tamil and English. The next step was to find a space to keep the books so that children could come in the evenings. Today more than 2,000 books, including workbooks and comics, are housed in a room in the premises of St. Stephen’s Church, in the hill town.

Going beyond books, Siragugal organises a variety of fun-filed activities for children. “We have story reading sessions, science experiments, painting competitions, yoga classes and computer lessons,” says Kalyani. Since most of the books are in English, we give lessons in the English. Siragagal, which has been around for five years, is targeted at children from Stds. VI to VIII. It is difficult for kids below that age group to go back home on their own. Members of Siragagal now plan to buy a van to pick up and drop the children making it easier for them to use the library.

Siragugal Children’s Library, Claremont, Club Road, Udhagamandalam - 643001. Email: contactus@siragugal.net