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National Library Week: How libraries in Visakhapatnam are experiencing a resurgence

As the 55th National Library Week celebrations are underway, we visit libraries in Visakhapatnam that are experiencing a resurgence thanks to newer ways of connecting with readers

November 19, 2022 08:49 am | Updated 01:12 pm IST

Shravya Garuda conducting an interactive session of songs and rhymes for toddlers and pre-schoolers at BookMagic Library in Visakhapatnam

Shravya Garuda conducting an interactive session of songs and rhymes for toddlers and pre-schoolers at BookMagic Library in Visakhapatnam | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

Sunita Kona eagerly awaits the fortnightly book review meets at a city library. For the former secondary school teacher, libraries not only connect one with books, but also foster a sense of community. “There’s so much beyond just reading. For me, a library is a space where total strangers meet, discuss, dissect and mull over different genres of books. As I am mostly into historical, mythological and romantic novels, the book review meets introduced me to science fiction, thrillers and other genres I would have otherwise never picked up on my own. Now I have developed a camaraderie with my fellow reviewers and look forward to our meetings,” she says.

Sunita is an active participant of the book review meets conducted by Visakhapatnam-based BookMagic library. It encourages people to select a book for a particular session and build a conversation around it. In its seventh year, the library has gone through many phases of transformation and today stands as a symbol of hope of how libraries are thriving in the ever evolving world.

Libraries in Visakhapatnam are experiencing a resurgence, thanks to newer ways of connecting with people and in the process, creating communities. With the 55th National Library Week celebrations underway, city libraries are reaching out to millennials through renewed vigour.

The Visakha Public Library went through a series of transformations over the past two years, dusting off the image of books stacked to the ceiling, creaky fans and huge reading rooms where librarians go ‘hush’. ’Today, the library stands as an interactive space with well-lit rooms, video conference halls, cheerful storytelling corners for kids and well-manicured greens surrounding the building. “Libraries play a pivotal role in igniting young minds. Our focus is on bringing children back to the library through activities that appeal to them. As part of that, storytelling, art and craft activities are conducted on alternative Sundays at the newly-inaugurated Miyawaki Children’s Section,” says DS Varma, secretary of the library.

Among its other new initiatives, the library conducts monthly guest lectures on various themes. “The idea is to reinforce the concept of the Public Library as a space that builds intellect through Centre for Policy Studies and meeting halls for exchange of ideas,” he adds.

Children browsing books at BookMagic Library in Visakhapatnam

Children browsing books at BookMagic Library in Visakhapatnam | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

From roping in young readers and creating reading communities for adults to catching the attention of toddlers by way of rhymes and music sessions, BookMagic Library is striving to meet the demands of the evolving community. Today the library offers weekly art classes, vocabulary-building workshops, science workshops, public speaking sessions and a host of other activities. It recently started a rhyme time session for babies and toddlers which is conducted by Shravya Garuda, STEM educator, every alternate Wednesday. “It’s a space where people can share their experiences as a new parent and introduce little ones to books early in life in a playful way,” says Jhansi Tripuraneni, who has been attending the sessions with her four-year-old son.

“Our focus is to raise readers. We are looking at a generation that lives in a world of instant gratification. Reading does not give tangible, immediate results. So the effective way to bring kids to libraries is through activities centering around books,” says Hari Madala of BookMagic. From December 3, the library is starting a Read Aloud programme for three to five year olds. During the National Library Week, BookMagic is reaching out to schools to talk about the benefits of reading.

Children’s reading room at Visakha Public Library that was recently inaugurated in Visakhapatnam

Children’s reading room at Visakha Public Library that was recently inaugurated in Visakhapatnam | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

Book reading club Pick A Book encourages reading by getting participants to select a book, read and research on it and present a summary. In its third year of existence, Pick A Book has managed to build a thriving community of book lovers with over 640 members. “We have a series of activities that engage participants with authors as well. We have tied up with schools and other educational institutions as well as corporate firms to expand our activities,” says co-founder of Pick A Book KVT Ramesh. The members recently participated in a Book Trek programme at Kambalakonda and conducted reading activities in the natural environment of the space. Among its other programmes, Pick A Book also conducts online interactive sessions with authors, presentation skills training and weekly club sessions where the members present the books and hold discussions.

Going beyond the concept of book stores, Pages The Book Shop is extending its support to school libraries by conducting exhibitions throughout this week. “We are hosting exhibitions in schools like Little Angels within the city and also at remote locations where the readers do not have access to good books but have the passion to read. As part of the National Library Week celebrations, we have had storytelling sessions and author visits at our store,” says Abhishek Neotia of Pages. “We believe in inculcating the reading habit step by step,” he adds.

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