Pandemic fails to dampen the spirit of book lovers

Engrossed readers at the Ernakulam Public Library.  

The pandemic, it seems, largely failed to break the tryst between readers and books going by the applications for membership being received by the Ernakulam Public Library.

One of the oldest libraries in the State kept its lending section open all along except during the 40 days of the lockdown immediately after which readers, both new and old, started returning.

“On an average, we have been receiving 70 new membership applications since our lending section was reopened after the lockdown. It has further surged in the past couple of months. Though yet to return to the pre-COVID levels, the lending of books has been stable and is increasing all the time,” said the librarian, Priya K. Peter.

However, the library has no immediate plans to run any membership campaign, which it has been doing at regular intervals, owing to the prevailing restrictions.

Extension centres

After being closed for months, the library threw open the doors of its reading and reference sections and an adjoining hall where the general public can bring their own books to read, on the New Year day in strict compliance with COVID protocol. Plans are also afoot to open the library’s extension centres at the High Court, Infopark Kochi and the Greater Cochin Development Authority office shortly.

“Food and water from outside are strictly banned inside the library premises while masks and gloves are mandatory. Only five persons are allowed inside the lending section at a time and 15 in the reading room,” said Ms. Peter.

The library never ceased buying new books through the pandemic times and has already bought all recently released English titles, including from the recently held book fest by the library council. The library now boasts over 2 lakh books and over 10,700 members.

The library was fully fumigated during the height of the pandemic and even used to sanitise the books returned. Later, the sanitisation was stopped but the books were kept separately for 15 days, which has since then been reduced to seven days, before they were returned to the racks of the lending section.

The library now offers five different categories of membership – A, B, and C, life membership and institutional membership. All members, except those under the B and C categories, were eligible to take home four books at a time and the other two could take two and one book respectively.

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Printable version | Mar 9, 2021 7:26:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/pandemic-fails-to-dampen-the-spirit-of-book-lovers/article33662571.ece

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