Social media pitches in to rebuild library from scratch

Joining hands:The books collected as part of a social media book collection drive for the AKG memorial library at Thalookkara in Malappuram district.  

On March 23, the temperature inside the AKG Memorial Library at Thalookkara, a village in Malappuram district, read ‘Fahrenheit 451.’ It’s the temperature at which paper ignites. Around 5,000 books inside the library went up in flames, set to fire allegedly by workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). But a month later, more than double that number of books has reached the library, from hundreds of people across the globe.

One of the biggest book collection drives that the State has witnessed in recent times, started from a Facebook group titled simply ‘Book collection’, floated soon after the incident. The news of the book burning and collection drive went viral on social networks. Many came forward offering substantial number of books from their personal collections. The idea of a ‘Pusthakavandi’ was thus born, with a few students and working professionals agreeing to take around a vehicle to collect books from across the State.

“We formed volunteer groups in each district to coordinate the collection activities. One vehicle started from Thiruvananthapuram and collected books from the southern districts, while a few others started from Kasaragod. Political leaders Thomas Isaac and M.A. Baby, writer Subhash Chandran, film-makers Aashiq Abu and Amal Neerad, are among those who contributed books,” says Julius Mirshad, an IT professional who is part of a ‘Pusthakavandi.’

Books also came from JNU, Hyderabad University and Delhi University and from the U.S., the U.K. and the Middle East. Many others directly sent books to the library through online book stores. A few others deposited money in the library’s bank account to buy books.

The library, which started in 1980 under the aegis of the AKG Memorial Kalavedhi, had been one of the cultural centres of Thalookkara. The library is situated near the birth places of Ezhuthachan, Vallathol and Moyinkutty Vaidyar.

“In the early days, we built the library by going around houses and collecting books donated by individuals. Later, we started getting grants from the government too. We had a good collection of books, including rare manuscripts. It was more than just a library. We had musical instruments and many used to come here and play them. Annually, we have been organising close to 15 events for children and adults.

The people of the locality have already collected more than 3,000 books for us. With the Pusthakavandi, we will now have more than 10,000 books,” says K.T. Musthafa, the library secretary.

To rebuild library

The March attack, on the eve of AKG’s birth anniversary, was not the first of its kind on the library. In 2013, one of its doors was burned down in a fire. A fund collection drive is now on to rebuild the library, which was completely gutted, by next month.

At a time when social media is being blamed for killing the reading habit of a generation, it has contributed in no small measure to rebuilding an entire library, from scratch.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 2:28:48 PM |

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