Disappearing Trades Columns

City’s lending libraries gather dust

Some libraries, while keeping their core base of customers intact, find the present younger generation isn’t reading as much as the previous one. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan  

Long before satellite television, PlayStations and smart gadgets invaded lives, children and adults alike used to swarm lending libraries to get their hands on their favourite authors’ latest or pick up a sports or film magazine.

Today, the owners of the existing libraries lament that the digital revolution, which has spawned a culture of reading off the internet and e-books, is threatening their existence.

Kathiresan, who has been running Yuvaraj Lending Library since 1987 in West Mambalam, learnt his trade working in the city’s popular lending library, Easwari Lending Library. When he started, Kathiresan says that lending libraries were a hub for students and adults. Not anymore.  

“A decade ago, school students from K.K. Nagar used to rent books from my shop. With the advent of smart gadgets and increasing costs of books, youngsters are increasingly choosing to read on the internet or on their e-book readers,” says Kathiresan.

There was a time, he says, when there were takers for business or political magazines, but Kathiresan says that the profile of his current membership base doesn’t warrant such hefty re-investments. “My members today mostly prefer to read Tamil magazines and Tamil authors,” he says.

While he has managed to keep his core base of customers intact, Kathiresan feels that the present younger generation isn’t reading as much as the previous one. “I have around 300 members, but most of them are middle-aged,” he says.

Kathiresan predicts that the last surviving lending libraries will eventually fold up. “When reading books were one of the prime sources of information and entertainment, lending libraries had a purpose. Now, there is television, internet.”   


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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 9:12:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chen-columns/citys-lending-libraries-gather-dust/article6238917.ece

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