Travel

To an era of timelessness: City Central Library

Despite its uninviting exteriors, the City Central Library offers a much-needed ride into a space sans digital complexities

City Central Library at Chikkadpally rings in a holistic appeal to an area that's more popular for its film halls, coaching institutes and cultural avenues. One would rather prefer the premises remains a symbol of history over a five and a half decade span than evolving to sync with the changing tastes of readers. Yet, the space posts good numbers, thousand visitors and members making it to the library on a daily basis, thanks largely to its collection of over two lakh books across eight languages (Telugu, English, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, Hindi).

Among this impressive number of readers it houses, a majority comprises students who find it an ideal space to prepare for their civil services and other competitive exams. It isn’t surprising to hear from authorities that the textbooks and reference materials outscore the popularity of fiction. Indeed reality is stranger than fiction! The Library is also a favoured daily destination for several residents of various ages from the nearby Ashok Nagar, Jawahar Nagar who frequent the periodicals section.

The corridor and open-ground spaces has locked chairs splashed across all corners where readers often break the monotony of reading in a conventional library. One must remember this was a space that once popularised mobile libraries with the use of defunct cars, buses for reading, but their current-day condition doesn’t seem so appealing.

What is attracting people to the library is also the space accommodating the ₹ 5 -per-meal facility initiated by the state government. The fact that it’s open from 8 am to 8 pm, six days of the week and that one can read, eat and be enthused by the events across various arenas organised at the lecture hall, auditorium contributes to its overall significance. The information and resource centre in the library provides internet usage to its members at a meagre ₹5 an hour. The chirping of the pigeons, the smell of old and new books hitting your nostrils and the timelessness of browsing for one’s favourite book still makes for a poetic experience.

City Central Library

Commemorating the National Library Week, the premises is now a hub of activity, with its long-pending renovation work being undertaken, its auditorium and open spaces being readied for the cultural and literary programmes to be hosted in the coming days. The library named after Vattikota Alwar Swamy which also houses the statues and portraits of Kodati Narayana Rao and S R Ranganathan (credited to be the father of library sciences) reminds us of times when the country actively came together for a ‘library movement’.

About 50 years later, ‘digitalisation’ and ‘online-databases’ may be fancy terms that the library associates itself with, though it’s the good old files and manual registers that do the job. It’s a simple hand-written form that gets one a refundable membership starting at ₹150.

One could only pick books priced according to their membership value that could scale upto ₹750. Despite the building’s dilapidated condition and its cluttered book database, City Central Library is a calming experience to a simple world minus digital distractions.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 4:52:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/to-an-era-of-timelessness-city-central-library/article20499263.ece

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