A library with a ‘difference’

Noisy, leaky, and messy. Are you in a library?
A library with a ‘difference’

Come spring, the rat race picks up as the students fromdifferent pockets converge in the town. The crowd adds charm to the main marketwhich otherwise looks sleepy during winters. As people pour in, they give it afestive look. Amid the din, a treasure trove has become talk of the town for avariety of reasons. It is a six-room building which houses thousands of booksof different categories. It is district library Baramulla.

Argentine writer and librarian, Jorge Luis Borges writes, "Ihave always imagined that paradise will be a kind of a library". Perhapsconquered with this thought, throughout the day, the cream or (whom we call)the intellectual class and scores of students remain busy in healthy literarydiscussions and debates here. I am a bibliophile and book is my first love.Whenever I donate, date or dust my bookshelves, I always share a wet-kiss withmy books.

The dying habit of book reading among youngsters continuesto remain a concern for the staff here though they organize functions in schoolsand colleges in which they persuade students to visit libraries and minimizee-reading. The library staff organizes literary meetings, seminars, debates,Mushairas Where poets/literary giants of the district assemble to showcasetheir talent in collaboration with Baramulla Writers Forum (BWF), a group oflocal literary figures. Moreover, world book day on April 23rd and worldliteracy day on September 8th is observed with enthusiasm and fervor. Theyguide the borrowers. It is like as second home. Reading room remains abuzz,jam-packed where the literature lovers keep engrossed in various books,references, magazines, journals and newspapers. Galaxy of scholars explores therich reference section with rare collection of Kashmir and Islamic history.

Library is considered to be a magical place of learning,reading, discussions and having fun. Library is a place to stay connected withever-increasing amounts of data to find the core of knowledge in theever-increasing deluge of data. A library is but more than a building-atreasure house of knowledge. Good books comfort and console us like a goodfriend in both times of elation and distress. Book reading develops creativeand critical thinking rather than spoon-feeding.

Reading habits are declining and internet is a majordistracter. No doubt there is a barrage of data accessible but these daysmajority of netizens opine that it is hard to limit internet for productivepurposes because it wastes our time on fruitless surfing as it is inescapable.Reading books contribute towards the enrichment of our knowledge in terms ofhuman experience and information. Reading good book refreshes our ideas andthought process. We plan and prioritize things when we read quality stuff.While reading different genres of books I find myself exposed to new dreams.Hold on! If daily stress overshadows you, here is a remedy:  "Book reading reduces stress but for thispurpose you have to minimize net surfing as much as you can." But the million dollarquestion remains what prompts the young brigade to stay away from once our'Lifeline'. Why has it turned lifeless and dejected? Is it because book readingrequires patience which is extinct in today's materialistic world whereeveryone paces towards nowhere. Internet is killing books and the death ofbookstores may have catastrophic consequences in near future. The library inquestion is a hope for the residents of my district.

But there are few grey shades which if addressed would helpa great deal. The library is situated on the fifth story of a shopping complex(owned by Auqaf Committee) which results in a lot of inconvenience for seniorcitizens. Oldies struggle to climb the stairs. Noise irks readers. It is located in a crowded vegetable market wheresilence is drowned in hollering of vendors and honking of vehicles. Staff isless but cooperative. Shortage of staff is a severe issue. One Librarian and alibrary bearer manage all the six rooms.

Off late, computers were installed for students preparingfor various competitive exams but they are gathering dust as operators have notbeen deployed. Leakage in washroom stinks. Ex-Director Mukhtar-ul-Aziz hadassured that all the facilities including fans and Xerox machine will be madeavailable but nothing productive happened so far. On a parting note, I hopeagainst hope that the indifferent administration at the department of Librariesand Research will shortly shift the library to a calmer place.

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