Downtown

Exclusive reading space for women

Nearly 400 members are enrolled with the library. Photo: M. Vedhan

Nearly 400 members are enrolled with the library. Photo: M. Vedhan   | Photo Credit: M_VEDHAN

This library is located in the midst of auto spares shops, but that does not deter women from flocking to it. D. Madhavan reports.

At this branch library for women, eight women seem to be supernaturally focussed as they study for their competitive examinations. They ignore the sounds that pierce the air. This library, tucked inside the auto spare parts market at Adithanar Salai in Pudupet, draws many women from the neighbourhood, for the exclusive space its offers than for its collection of books.

The library, Pengal Noolagam, is one of the two state-run libraries that is operated exclusively for women readers at “rent-free” premises. The other library for women is located on Bells Road in Chepauk.

The library has readers from various localities, including Egmore, Vepery, Pudupet, Chetpet, Zambazzar, Royapettah and Nungambakkam every day between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. “Every year, we add 1,000 books to the collection in the library. At present, we have 40,428 books, mostly Tamil, with around 400 members,” said Elango Chandra Kumar, Chennai District Library Officer, in-charge of 158 government libraries.

Opened in December 1962, the library has a diverse collection of books including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, academic, magazines and newspapers. Around 15 people can be accommodated at the two-room facility.

“After school hours, we come to the library as a group and spend at least an hour browsing novels, books on Tamil literature and newspapers,” said V. Kavitha, a class XII student from Egmore.            According to officials of the Directorate of Public Libraries, government libraries were started after Independence to encourage women to step out of their houses for education including higher studies. Opening of such exclusive public libraries for women was one of the steps taken by the state government to give more space for women.

Of 158 public libraries in the city, 92 libraries have own buildings and 54 libraries including libraries for women at Pudupet and Chepauk are accommodated in rent-free buildings.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 11:50:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/exclusive-reading-space-for-women/article7361584.ece

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