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Reaching out on a two-wheeler library

Inspired by the father of library science in India S. R. Ranganathan, who reportedly travelled in a bullock cart from village to village to circulate books in the pre-Independence era, the librarian of Thottiyam Branch Library V. Selvamani (42) is literally going out of his way on a two-wheeler to motivate rural children to take to the habit of reading.

For Mr. Selvamani, his two-wheeler laden with books is serving the purpose of extending the concept and promoting reading habit among children in surrounding villages within two kilometre radius, after school hours.

Stacked with story books and other books of interest to children, Mr.Selvamani visited Kosavampatti hamlet on Wednesday and Varadarajapuram on Thursday, and is buoyed by the response on the part of the children.

Teachers of the village schools were equally enthused by the zeal of the children towards assimilating the plethora of stories in the bound books, sitting in groups.

The teachers had even expressed to Mr.Selvamani how they yearned for their students to show the same interest in text books.

But, Mr.Selvamani is performing the role of a teacher, too, by way of determining the learning of new vocabulary in the stories by the children. He has decided to make village visits on his 'mobile library' a routine activity henceforth, and, if possible, even expand the radius of his service to cover more villages.

"Since there are five librarians in the Thottiyam Branch Library, others can pitch in even in my absence to ensure continuity of the mobile library service,” he says.

Alongside providing story books for the children to read under his guidance for a duration of at least an hour after school time, Mr. Selvamani also enrolls them as members for just ₹ 20 each - ₹ 15 towards caution deposit and ₹ 5 for annual renewal.

The initiative has begun with the children, and gradually elders will be roped in, said Mr. Selvamani exuding hope.

The innovative act is not a one-off thing for Mr.Selvamani; he has been a member of International Network of Emerging Library Innovators, India, a program of M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, District Library Officer A. P. Sivakumar said. The Thottiyam Branch Library has a collection of over 50,000 books.

“The task of taking books to the children's doorsteps to cultivate reading habit is bound to bear fruits; wide learning will stand the children in good stead at a later stage in their lives,” says a confident Mr. Selvamani.


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