CHITRADURGA: Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Libraries change lives for the better.” — Sidney Sheldon, author The American writer’s words hold true for the village library in Kaidale in Davangere district.
Right from the littlest of the village’s residents --- children as young as two -- to the elderly, this store house of stories, information and knowledge, has captured everyone’s hearts. Located on the second floor of the Kaidale Gram Panchayat office --- which caters to around 16,000 people in eight villages --- young children visit the library to scribble on the white board, while the elderly read newspapers to keep up with the times. The highlight though, is its vast collection of books that would help young people prepare for examinations that would make them eligible for higher studies, or jobs they aspire to.
Each day, around 150 students turn up to pore over the books. The library has books for police constable and sub-inspector exams, Karnataka Administrative Services, the central civil services, banking services, panchayat development officer, the Common Entrance Exam, JEE, NEET, and even novels.
But why would a state-run library acquire such books in such a large number, you ask? Panchayat Development Officer Vidyavathi I C, who built the collection, says she knows how hard it is to obtain education and then apply for jobs. “I used to travel from my house in Kakkaragolla village to Davanagere city and went through a lot of hardship while studying,” says the arts graduate, recalling the 8km commute. Bus connectivity was poor and she would leave early in the morning, only to return late in the evening. “I wrote competitive exams for all kinds of jobs, but I was hired as PDO and I am happily serving rural people,” she says.
When she took over as PDO in 2010, Kaidale had no library. In 2016, she set one up, and slowly, began to procure books for competitive exams along with fiction and newspapers. A big break came when the panchayat received Rs 10 lakh under the Namma Grama Namma Yojane that year, and Rs 5 lakh when it won the Gandhi Gram Puraskar. Now, the library has 2,886 hard copy books, and 1,556 e-books, audio and video learning material. It also has rooftop solar panels, and is self-sufficient on the power front.
“We bought books based on demand from users, and also keeping in mind future requirements. We hope they come in handy for youths so that they can scale new heights. More importantly, the habit of reading should be cultivated. I am happy that we attract people from kindergartners to postgraduates and the elderly who come here regularly to read books and newspapers,” she says.
As the library became popular, people too began to see its advantages, the biggest one being that young children were fascinated by books. “If not for this, many children would have turned into child labourers, working on farms, dehusking arecanut,” Vidyavathi says. Many people donated money, some made out amounts as large as Rs 15,000 or Rs 20,000 towards the purchase of books.
“Their only demand was that we ensure the youth and students of Kaidale village study at their doorsteps and reach new frontiers of the world,” Vidyavathi says. Says Mallikarjun Kaidale, resident, “The library has become a hub of learning. Children would have become child labourers during the lockdown. They love to go to the library to read and write. Youths are allowed to browse on the computer, and learn new things. We want this library to be developed further and ensure that youths get better knowledge and excel in their lives.”
16,000 People in eight villages frequent the library
2,886 Hard copy books in library
1,556 e-books, videos, audio material