Fearful of proposed shift, readers throng city landmark

M. Saranya has been meaning to visit the Anna Centenary Library (ACL) for quite a while. “I kept postponing the visit as there is little time on a working day. After the government announced that the library will be shifted, I decided to come immediately,” says the pharmacology student, who goes to the Taramani campus of the University of Madras.

Ever since the announcement on shifting the library was made a week ago, its Kottupuram premises has been drawing huge numbers. Several first-time visitors such as Saranya, who was there on Tuesday, want to visit the facility fearing they might miss the chance, should it be shifted to the DPI premises.

On Sunday, the library had as many as 2,538 visitors, over double the number recorded last Sunday (910). On Saturday, 1,855 persons visited the library, while 1,270 visited the facility the previous Saturday.

“The crowd on weekdays has also gone up. Look at the bikes and cars parked here,” says a security staff on the premises, pointing to the several rows of two-wheelers and the long line of cars neatly parked one beside another in the area to the left of the building.

From college students to those who decided to make a trip as a family, several visitors could be seen in the morning on Tuesday. Most of them were there for the first time, as was evident from their enquiries about depositing the bags.

Whether it is about visitors who come out of curiosity or those who heard about it from friends and decided to come, the number of signatures is proof enough for the recent increase in number of visitors. On Tuesday, nearly 100 persons had come by 11.30 a.m. By 7.30 in the evening, the number went up to 1600. This excludes a big group of school students from The Calibre Academy. Accompanied by a few teachers, the children seemed rather intrigued by the huge building, as they entered the premises in pairs.

Frequent users suggest that those who want to come and see the place do so over two or three visits. S. Porpadam, a student of toxicology, says: “You cannot finish seeing the place in one day. It took me three days to get a basic sense of the different sections.” He spends most of his time in the 5{+t}{+h} floor. “I find many books in my subject there. The collection here is better than what we have in our department.”

Kotturpuram was an ideal location as the stretch had several institutions, Porpadam observed. “A huge number of students and research scholars come to this area every day.”

Mechanical engineer S. Selvam says the building, collection and ambience make the library very special. “Whether it is in my own discipline or in other subjects, I find many books that are not easily available in other public or private libraries in the city. The construction is very good. I come here thrice a week,” says the project engineer, who works in a private firm in north Chennai.

According to sources, there was a steady increase in the number of visitors right from the start.

The average number of persons who visited the library between January and October 2011 is around 26,500, compared to the monthly average of 20,000 in 2010.