Author: Jay Nair
University Library, or officially “Kerala University Library”, is housed in an imposing old building with a distinctive architecture that is itself reminiscent of sky-high stacks of books! Imposing and even a bit intimidating once you step inside, with its unglazed and uneven red terracotta tile floor, clinical whitewashed walls, dark and musty reading rooms and row upon row of high steel bookshelves with maroon, dark green and black calico bound volumes.
But then, unlike other libraries you did not visit the University Library for the atmosphere; you went there for the books, period. You had to be a registered student, faculty or staff of the university to gain access. I started going there with my father when still in middle school, and later – having earned the rights to take the bus into the city on my own – to pick up or return books for him. So, as a highschooler when I developed a fascination for the history of Kerala I not only had access to material I couldn’t find anywhere else, I also knew my way around the labyrinth that was the library.
I haven’t been there in decades now. Today, as it has always been since its founding in 1942, it is the biggest university library in Kerala, and I read from the website that it is “the only library in Kerala which serves as a depository of UN and World Bank publications” and is “currently in the process of digitizing its rare collections”. I am sure that it will continue to serve as a treasure trove of knowledge for generations of scholars to come.