Proactive measures by libraries encourage youngsters to develop reading habit, increase number of patrons
Scholars and educationists often express concern over the waning reading habit among youngsters. Time and again they have been pleading for a concerted initiative to inculcate the reading habit, particularly in the student community, for building a bright future.
However, the overwhelming response to the recently concluded national library week celebrations across the district, which saw the participation of a large number of school and college students, apart from the general public, has proved that youngsters are moving in the right direction. What has brought cheer to librarians is that the response was equally impressive in both the urban and rural areas.
State Department of Public Libraries is running a central library in Tiruchi city, 59 branch libraries within semi-urban limits, 63 village libraries in the hamlets, four part-time libraries, and a mobile library. Library week was celebrated in all these libraries with much fanfare with the cooperation of the local community.
Hundreds of school and college students participated in the quiz, oratorical, essay writing, poem composing and painting competitions, and in rallies and other programmes organised to create awareness among the people of the importance of using public libraries.
All the libraries in the district organised book exhibitions for the whole week as part of the celebrations. The branch libraries and village libraries vied with each another in this aspect. The village library at Mangalam adopted topic specific exhibition for each day, like education, health and hygiene, and medicine. At Manapparai branch library, it was an awareness programme a day, directed towards a particular cause.
The programme of ‘story telling’ by school students below 10 years of age and ‘identify the Tamil author’ contest, both organised by District Central Library, was well received by parents too. The art of story telling has been on the wane, perhaps due to the impact of IT revolution and the television. The present younger generation has not been exposed to this conventional practice, when the elderly described epics, values through stories. Many parents commended the authorities for reviving this dying art.
Collector Jayashree Muralidharan launched the signature campaign, in which a large number of students, members of voluntary organisations participated. The signature campaign aimed at taking the pledge to stress reading books at least for an hour a day, visiting a library at least once a week, inculcate reading habit among students, and enrolling themselves as members of libraries.
Rallies too marked the celebrations in rural areas. Indira Gandhi, MLA, who flagged off a rally organised by Thuraiyur branch library, surprised organisers by riding a bicycle herself. Village libraries at Thazhugai, Keerambur, Naganallur, Paithamparai, Pannampatti, Poolampatti, Iyappanagar; and branch libraries at Thandanaiputhur,Tiruppainjeeli, Lalgudi, Musiri, Thendral Nagar took advantage of the opportunity to promote library movement in the local community.
According to A. P. Sivakumar, District Library Officer, many libraries preferred the much debated issues like environment, forest cover, solar energy and global warming. ‘Dengue prevention is the topic of the day and we did not spare it,’ he says. Ayyappa nagar village library organised the competition of reciting the old Tamil classics like Athisoodi, Kondrai Venthan. Referring to responses to the competition, he said a record 90 prizes were distributed to winners of competitions organised by Kolakkudi branch library. To motivate the winners towards green cover, saplings formed part of the prize distributed to the winners.
The Readers’ Circle of these libraries played a pivotal role in the success of these programmes. The whole week proved a big hit and this could be gauged from the fact that more than 150 people enrolled themselves as patrons of various libraries by donating over Rs.1,000 each during the library week. While 11 persons became patrons of Tiruppainjeeli branch library, 10 were enrolled with Poolampatti village library, Mr. Sivakumar says.
The donation of inverters to tide over the power crisis to three libraries by members is yet another example of patronage enjoyed by them. B. Natarajan and Sowmya Rajarathinam, both industrialists, donated inverters to Thuraiyur and Manapparai branch libraries, while a group of readers made a similar offer to Puthur library.
All the libraries in the district are being used extensively by UPSC, TNPSC and TET aspirants. At least a dozen youth, all members of the libraries, have emerged successful in the TNPSC and TET examinations, Mr. Sivakumar says with joy writ large on his face.
The week had a grand finale, when P. Kumar, MP, announced an allocation of Rs.10 lakh from his MP Local Area Development Fund for infrastructure development at the central library.
Full credit should be given to library authorities for organising programmes involving school students to senior citizens, said P. V. Devarajan, former school headmaster and president of Tiruchi District Central Library Readers’ Forum.
He pleaded for steps for shifting District Central Library, functioning on private premises near TVS Tollgate to its new building near Main Guard Gate. The IAS and IPS section in the library should also be strengthened with latest publications, he adds.