A library in a train at a city school

“Awakened by a babel of voices, Totto-chan jumped up and ran through the school grounds and out of the gate. A great big railroad car was just visible in the morning haze. It was like a dream – a train coming along the road without tracks, making no sound...” Santhya Vikram, Director of Yellow Train school reads the excerpt from the book, that she says never fails to inspire her – Totto-chan: The little girl at the Window. And, the children who surround Vikram recreate the scene from the book at their Mudalipalayam school Campus.

The school campus feels and looks like a jolly railway platform. There is music and a midnight market, children and parents have come the previous night, pitched their tents on the school grounds and the buzz is incredible as they wait for a train compartment to arrive all the way from Erode on a huge truck so that it can become a children’s library.

A visibly excited parent, Santosh Manikantan is there with his 12-year-old daughter. He is thrilled at the idea of a library in a train bogie, he says. “I am amazed,” he exclaims.

A library in a train at a city school

“Trains may be meant for travellers, but our compartment is going to be stuffed with books. That’s the Yellow Train style,” laughs Anushka Surendranbabu, a grade three student. News reaches the school that the bogie is just a few kilometers away. It is 2.30 a.m. Some teachers drive out of the school to meet the bogie. At 3.30 a.m. it reaches the Mudalipalayam village and there is no sleep after that. It takes about three hours for the trailer to wade through the cornfields and farm lands and reach the school grounds. Just as the sun rises, the children and teachers walk behind the bogey chanting “92410, it is here! It is here!”

The parents say they have awaited this moment as much as their wards. “We have thought of nothing except the bogie and it is finally here in school,” “exclaims Shanmughapriya S, another parent. A crane lifts the bogie from the trailer and places it on the ground and the children clamber aboard.

Coimbatore has contributed over 16,500 books for the bogie library before the Marathon the school conducted. Participants were expected to register for the run with books. The school now has book drive campaigns across the world, and they have already received gifts of hundreds of books.

A library in a train at a city school

The library is for every child in this region, promises Vikram. “We want this library to become a landmark in Coimbatore. We are hoping it will become a beautiful place where children can get lost in the pages of thousands of books,” she says.

Like other trains, this one too will take people to faraway lands, lands beyond the eye. But instead of the “tatak-tatak” sound of a train moving on the tracks, there will be the sound of pages being turned as the readers will embark on exciting adventures.

The children will now go places, says Santhya Vikram of Yellow Train

We set out to fill our bogie with books from all over the world. We sent out mails to schools and libraries, and our first response came from a Librarian Hellen Andalis from Dandenong Ranges Steiner School in Australia. She was excited about running this campaign in her school community and also got us in touch with other libraries. Our friends are running this campaign in Germany, Africa, United States, New Zealand, Singapore and many other places and we are hoping to receive many many cartons from all over the world.

There is going to be a Tamil section in the library and I hope that will nurture the love for Tamil in the children and open up the world of imagination for them. Some of the donations of Tamil books include Ponniyin Selvan , the works of Sujatha and Jayaganthan. There will be many many other writers too. A family from Tiruvanamalai who own a publishing company has offered to send a whole set of Tamil literature.

There are going to be books here that are nothing short of a treasure trove. A family from Udumalpet has donated many many old books from their library built up over the years by their ancestors. A lot of Tamil Literary gems are amongst the contributions.

The school aims to inaugurate the library and open it for the book lovers of Coimbatore by June 2018.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 10:02:50 AM |

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