Society

Libraries get a new lease of life in Kerala

Volunteers of Kites Foundation sorting out books

Volunteers of Kites Foundation sorting out books

At a tribal hamlet in Govinda Moola in Sulthan Bathery, Wayanad, a small library has taken shape. What was earlier a shack to store firewood at the village head’s house, is now a space with shelves containing over 1,000 books in Malayalam and English.

The Karinthandan Smaraka Vayanasala, as it has been christened, is a matter of pride for the villagers. Opened on October 31, it is the only library in the village. Open from 9 am to 5 pm, it has been getting a fair share of footfalls.

The formation of the library is part of a project, ‘Book Farm’, by Kites Foundation, a non-profit organisation of youth volunteers based in Kerala. Collaborating with the Kerala State Library Council, NGOs and NSS units and local reading clubs, the volunteers have revived/set up 13 libraries in various districts in the State.

Bringing back the joy of reading

“We have been going through tough times and there was a need to have shared reading spaces. The flood of 2018 and the pandemic led to the decline of many libraries across the State. Our aim was to revive them and bring people back to the joys of reading,” says Ajmal Chakkarapadam, founder and chief executive officer of Kites Foundation.

The books required for the libraries were collected from colleges across Kerala through NSS units and NGOs. “We roped in community members, local youth groups and college students, as the upkeep and functioning of the libraries would depend on them,” says Ajmal.

Volunteers worked tirelessly, coordinating, cleaning and stacking books. After two months of hard work, the Udaya Reading Room and Library at Alappuzha now wears a new look. Free of dust, with a fresh coat of paint, and a colourful mural depicting Kerala, it has got a new life.

Converting spaces

Ever since the project was kicked off, the volunteers collected over 20,000 books in Malayalam and English that catered to every age group. Though the foundation does not construct library buildings, it renovates existing structures and converts usable spaces into reading rooms.

The second phase of the project would be the setting up of micro-learning hubs in these libraries, which would aid in educating children, beyond the scope of the textbook. It would bring in experts to impart knowledge to children. “This can also benefit children from economically backward families,” says Ajmal. The ultimate aim is to convert these libraries into community development centres, which would promote socio-cultural growth.

With over 5,000 volunteers, Kites Foundation plans to organise book donation drives and create more reading rooms.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2022 7:16:50 am | https://www.thehindu.com/society/a-youth-volunteer-group-in-kerala-revives-libraries-as-part-of-its-book-farm-project/article37676575.ece