Amid the anomalous combination of old-world charm and urban din, the Canara Book Bank (CBB) finds itself nestled in Basavanagudi, lending books to medical, ayurveda, dental and engineering students.

Founded in 1956 under the Canara Bank Jubilee Education Fund (CBJEF) to commemorate the bank’s golden jubilee, it is maintained by volunteers who are mostly retired employees of the bank. Students, who make use of this facility, are mainly from the nearby localities.

Currently there are 4,000 registered members, an overwhelming increase from the initial membership of 15. The cost of membership is Rs. 200 and each book can be kept for a fortnight.

Inception

The brainchild of S.R Prabhu, the CBB was initially conceived to help medical students from buying expensive text books. Now it is aiding budding engineers too. A closer look at the old yet well maintained shelves also reveals books on macroeconomics, which look rather out of place amid a sea of treatises on anatomy, Java and C++ programming.

Apart from spending about Rs. 4 lakh a year on books, the CBB recently got a facelift by the installation of four computers with Internet connection, and printing and automation of library facilities.

According to K. Ramachandra Shenoy, a voluntary supervisor and a retired Canara Bank employee, with such an arrangement, one can save about Rs. 7,000 a year on engineering textbooks, and more than Rs. 10,000 on medical books.

Mitra Kumari, a final year student of Bangalore Institute of Technology, said: “CBB is a boon for students, who can’t spend money on reference books. Apart from letting us access local authors’ books, which aren’t available at the college library, they have at least eight to 10 copies of the most popular textbooks which is a blessing during exams.”

Although there were 11 such book banks under the CBJEF in several places such as Hassan, Mysore and Mangalore, Bangalore is the only city which can boast of one today.

Lack of supervisors

This is mainly because of the lack of supervisors, although there is no denial of capital from Canara Bank, says Mr. Shenoy, who has volunteered for this post since 1989. Retired employees and philanthropists too have created endowments in favour of the CBJEF, all of which are exempted under Section 80 (G) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

The CBB, located in Dwarkanath Bhavan, Netkallappa Circle, operates from 11.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.