The Pattom Thanu Pillai Children’s Library in the Fort area in Thiruvananthapuram is in a state of neglect.
For the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drews at the Pattom Thanu Pillai Children’s library in the Fort area, neither the summer nor the monsoons offer any respite. Summer means they have to scramble to escape from the suffocating fumes of burning waste dumps and rains have them almost floating in the reading room.
Run by the City Corporation, this small library was set up way back in 1966. But over the past few years, it has been in a state of neglect. The main portion of the library has a tiled roof underneath which is provided a false- roofing which is waiting to fall off. On looking up from beside the shelves, one can catch a glimpse of the sky. During monsoon, there is heavy leakage and the employees are forced to collect the water in buckets to prevent the waterlevel from rising. The moisture has affected some of the books too.
The furniture is also in a state of disrepair. As for the ceiling fans, only one of them is in a working condition. But the interiors would seem like heaven, if one were to step outside. A huge waste dump which stretches from the side wall of the library to a compound wall several metres away, welcomes the young readers to the world of letters.
Till sometime back, it was being used as a dumping yard by the Corporation itself. Buteven after the civic body has stopped waste disposal here, the residents from neighbouring localities have not.During late evening, one can notice cleaning staff from the Supplyco office nearby and residents carrying sacks and plastic covers and dumping it into the perpetually burning pile here.
“We complained many times to the Corporation officials and the MLA about the waste dumping in front of the library. But it still continues,” says Neelakandan, who lives near the library.
The library has only two women employees and for them, it is an ordeal to work here in the late evening as the path leading to the library is occupied by drunken men by 6 p.m. The library which has a total membership of more than 600 has 100 members who visit regularly. But these numbers have reduced in recent times owing to the conditionsprevailing in the library, say library staff.
The collection of books was updated in 2011, when funds last came in.
When contacted by The Hindu, the chairperson of the Corporation’s Standing Committee on Education K.S. Sheela said that tenders have already been floated to carry out maintenance work at the library. About the waste dumps, she said that the health department has already been informed about it. But the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Health S. Pushpalatha said that the issue is yet to come to her notice.
“We will look into it soon and action will be taken,” she said.