BANGALORE: With tall talks of declining popularity of libraries, one visit to the Malleswaram City Central Library might perhaps change your perception completely. We found this old building on Sampige Road, standing diffidently behind the chaotic vegetable market and quietly witnessing the transformation over the years. As the building is more than 25 years old, it may need a facelift soon. But, as we entered the library, we saw every chair occupied by readers, busily flipping through the newspapers with an urgency to know what is happening around the world. However, at the same time, the laid-back attitude was evident which is synonymous with the city. This public library comes under one of the four branches of the North Zone of Department of Public Library, the other two branches being in Rajajinagar and Nandini Layout.
When we spoke to Kalpana, a first-time user visiting the library, she was busy reading a book by Rudramurthy Shastry. She said, “I love reading Kannada literature and this place seems to have a pretty good literary collection.”
The ground floor is the newspaper section which has stocked almost every possible newspaper, magazine and periodical along with a browsing centre. The first floor has books on literature, economics, history, journalism, political science and many more. The third floor has been exclusively reserved for students, which clearly reminded me of my school days. Books from this section are not issued, but students can use them for reference purposes. Seeing this section packed with college students as well as with people appearing for administrative exams was indeed a pleasant surprise. Just while you enter this floor, there is a Children’s Section on the left, where colourful Enid Blyton books, peeping through the shelves, are sure to catch your attention. Assistant Librarian and an avid reader herself, Sunita, who was busy keeping a tab on the new arrivals told us, “Around 400 people come to this library on a daily basis. We have temporarily stop issuing books from the Children’s Section due to the ‘technical work’ taking place. But, we will restart this section just before the beginning of summer vacations. We update our collection every two to three months. But, almost 80 per cent of our collection is in Kannada.” and she is quick to assert, “We follow the colon classification method, introduced by the Father of Library, SR Ranganathan, for easy identification of books. ”
Storage space for newspapers is a problem, since they are disposed off only once in a year. The ‘weeded out’ books are stored in a godown in Rajajinagar. The City Central Library Deputy Director, Chandrashekar said, “Yes. Space is a problem.” When we asked him, if all the books in the library are recommended by the Book Committee, he said, “We have a 5 per cent quota for the reader’s recommendation too. So, as a reader, you can recommend books of your choice.” He lamented the fact that the library cess, which is 6 per cent only is hardly enough to meet the requirements.” Chandrashekar further added, “There are 15 Seva Kendras, Reading Centres and 10 GPs coming under the North zone.” As on 31st March 2011, this library had a total collection of 14,36,988 books.
Timings of Library: 8am to 8 pm
Holidays: Mondays and every second Tuesday.