Disseminating knowledge through books in areas where people have the inclination, but no scope, is the bookmobile or mobile library run by the government of Karnataka. Even though the concept started in the year 1983, initiated by chief librarian KG Venkatesh and later promoted by R Desai in 1994, it seems to be having a successful run, going by the number of members registered with them.
Popular especially among housewives, the perambulating buses, stop at various points across the city. Driver John Celestine, who takes care of the East and South route states, “I stop by at 25 points in a week and cover places like Girinagar, Avalahalli, HSR Layout, JP Nagar, Koramangala, C V Raman Nagar among others. Our time of standing at each location depends on the turn out of people. It is usually one hour to 45 minutes at every stop.”
Currently, he has registered 6,632 members between East and South. “We have at least 1,500 visitors out of which 75 per cent are housewives and 25 per cent are children and youngsters,” he said. Another driver is Murthy who covers the West and North Zone and passes through 22 points in a week including Sadashivnagar, Yelanhanka, Kengeri, and Vidyaranyapura. “Currently the West zone has around 11,000 registrations and more registrations are coming in. Senior citizens, especially women are glad to avail this library service. We operate the library in areas which do not have a permanent library in their locality,” he said.
The mobile library is currently headed by Pushpalatha Ratthihalli. Initially, there were three buses doing the rounds, but now only two are functional. “The bus which used to cover urban Bangalore is under repair for a long time. They are trying to fix it soon and it might travel to areas like Whitefield, Hosur, etc.,” John added.
Each mobile library stacks around six to seven thousand books. “We have 80 per cent Kannada books and 20 per cent English, Tamil, Telugu and other language books,” said John, who also tells us as to why housewives are addicted to mobile libraries. “We charge them just `41 and provide them with three books and give them 15 days time to return. This apart, Kannada novels written by authors Triveni, Ta Ra Su, Usha Navarathnaram, and SL Bhyrappa are in great demand,” he said. Though the e-library is catching up with lot of people, the mobile libraries are helpful for all age group who belong to the old school of thought. “The new upgraded technology does not match the requirement of the older people. They still prefer to read books. We do not have any overdue charges but in some cases they do not get back with the books and when given back, it may not be in proper condition. Some people borrow but do not know how to preserve them properly. Such books go back to the go-down,” Murthy said.
To avail services of the mobile library, contact 26548829.