Nearly 25,000 books stacked in 60 cupboards, some of them printed even before 1900, the Azad memorial library here bears testimony to many a change the little town has gone through in more than a century.
Located on Gundert Road, near the Thalassery fort, the library is an oft-frequented place by booklovers, young and old alike, in the taluk.
The proximity to four schools has earned it more than 300 student members. The library has nearly 60 life members and above 3,200 ‘A’ class members in the taluk. Teachers and researchers also form part of its regular visitors.
The library, named after Queen Victoria in its initial days by the British, was rechristened after Maulana Abul Kalam Azad post-Independence. The then cultural and literary stalwarts in the town, including Sanjayan, Moorkoth Kumaran, O. Chandumenon and Supreme Court judge V.R. Krishna Iyer, were instrumental in developing the library.
The building was reconstructed in 2005, braving stiff resistance of the Archaeological Survey of India for putting up a construction in the vicinity to the fort.
Many a challenge
Having withstood many challenges in its long run, the library faces severe space constraints. Built on five cents, the only furniture it boasts, other than the book shelves and seats for the employees, are a table and four chairs in the reference section.
Lack of funds has never deterred the library from accumulating books while minimal space for peaceful reading suffocates its users. A proper facility to guard its precious collection is another inadequacy of the library, said P. Rajan, senior advocate and a life member, who has remained a dedicated subscriber of the library for more than 40 years.
Though many requests had been made to the authorities to find an alternative, nothing had been done so far. The readers in the magazine section are made to bear the dust and noise pollution due to a nearby road, he added. “This makeshift construction has a temporary roof, separating it from the main road with grills. An expansion of the library at this location is out of question, as it will be a violation of rules,” he said.
Any other alternative to save the precious collection of books here and provide a place for serene reading is all what the booklovers here ask for.