As early as June, instructions were given to scrutinise the files

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's decision to convert the Anna Centenary Library premises in Kotturpuram to a children's hospital, now stayed by the Madras High Court, may have seemed rather sudden, but there were signs of what was in store for the library soon after the AIADMK government took over.

According to a source in the School Education Department, as early as June, instructions were given to scrutinise all files pertaining to the library.

Officials of the Vigilance Department were also entrusted with this task.

All the documents exchanged among different departments right from the time the project was conceived to the point when books were procured were read with utmost care to look for lapses.

Some officials also observed that while a total of five lakh titles were purchased ahead of the inauguration of the library on September 15, 2010, the process of sourcing the remaining nearly seven lakh titles slowed down significantly after the AIADMK came to power.

“There were administrative delays at every stage. Everybody's hands were tied,” an official said.

The management of the air-conditioned auditorium, now famous for having hosted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was quietly shifted from the Public Libraries Department to the Information Department.

Sources in the State government confirmed that this shift happened around the time Ms. Clinton visited the city.

Anyone who wishes to hire the swanky space must now go through the Information Department.

Additionally, any attempt to get feedback on the library from users seen on the premises was met with severe resistance by staff at the Kotturpuram library over the last few months. Some staff members told reporters that they could not speak to anyone even at the parking lot of the library. Photographers, too, were asked not to take any visual of the facility.

All the same, readers and users of the facility love being there.

Whether it is about civil service aspirants who spend hours together at the facility everyday or children seen sitting beneath the artificial tree created at the library, legs stretched and lost in their books, everyone clearly wants it to stay.