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Facelift for branch libraries

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Makeover: Facilities at some of the branch libraries in Chennai are set to get better. A scene at the library on Vellala Street, Kodambakkam. —
Makeover: Facilities at some of the branch libraries in Chennai are set to get better. A scene at the library on Vellala Street, Kodambakkam. —

K. Lakshmi

Improvement works to get over by month-end

CHENNAI: A total of 24 branch libraries in the city are in the process of getting a facelift with the Department of Public Libraries gearing up to complete infrastructure upgradation work by this month-end.

The libraries, in dire need of repair for over two decades, have been taken up for renovation and the works include pest control measures. Officials of the department said that the renovation work, worth Rs.1 crore, also includes improvements to basic facilities such as water supply and toilets.

The libraries in K.K.Nagar, Teynampet and MKB Nagar figure in the list of facilities that would be renovated. Building expansion works at four branch libraries in Thiruvanmiyur, Otteri, Erukkanchery and Triplicane would soon be completed at a total cost of nearly Rs.42 lakh.

Visitors to the branch libraries in Kolathur and Kodambakkam want books on health and diet to be added to the collection apart from increasing the number of books in English.

Branch librarians underscored the need for computerising operations at the facilities as they still had to maintain record of book lending manually.

Chennai District Library Officer S. Jeevarathinam said that computers worth Rs. 25 lakh were recently distributed to nearly 20 branch libraries to provide internet browsing facility. Nearly 25 librarians were also imparted training in computers with funds provided by Raja Rammohan Roy Library Foundation, a nodal agency of the Central government seeking to promote public library services.

Director of Public Libraries V. Ramani said that of the total 139 branch libraries in the city, 24 were chosen for renovation this year. The project would be extended to other libraries in the coming years based on priority. At present, 38.64 lakh people visited the branch libraries of which 2.40 lakh were members.

The patronage to branch libraries was expected to increase with improvement in the infrastructure. Besides provision of iron racks and furniture, the volume of books in various sections such as novels and reference would also be increased depending on demand. Measures were being taken to boost children literature section in the branch libraries, he said.

The department officials said that the cost of purchasing books and maintenance of libraries were met from the revenue collected as library cess from local bodies. Of the estimated Rs.30 crore to be remitted as library cess from the Chennai Corporation, only Rs.6 crore had been received so far this financial year.

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