Photos Credit: Kasuga Sho, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Author: Sivakumar Thekkenaduvath
Libraries hold a very special place in my life, particularly the Kozhikode Public Library & Research Centre in Mananchira, Kozhikode. This library is where I first started dreaming big, the place where I started seeing the unlimited potential of human life. The place where the stories of Gulliver and Khasak inspired me equally. The place where I fell in love with the writings of the prolific OV Vijayan, MT Vasudevan Nair (who is himself on the library’s governing board) and Sachidandan. The place where I realized the meaning of my life!
The library operates in a five-story building near Mananchira lake and and was started in 1996. It has quite a huge variety of books in all disciplines. I still remember the quote that welcomes every visitor into the library – `The more you learn, the more you know how less you know’. It gives a feeling of unsatisfied curiosity and is very humbling.
The library was about 20 Kilometres away from my home. I must have been around 19 years old when I visited for the first time; there was a reason for my first visit. During a bus journey from Kozhikode to my village, I happened to hear a conversation between two fellow passengers – they were arguing passionately about the symbolism used in Gulliver’s Travels. I couldn’t eavesdrop to the end of their argument, as I had to get down when the bus reached my village. All I understood was that there was more to the story than a children’s tale, perhaps a metaphor that I never noticed. The small library in my village did not have Jonathan Swift’s books -it had only 150 books or so at that time, a big majority of which were detective stories by Kottayam Pushpanath. (I could never relate to the logic of filling a library with detective fiction, except thinking that it was a way for the librarian to read his favorites. 🙂 ) I wanted to read more about the novel, and for that, the Public Library was my best bet. That’s when I found out about my friend’s membership account at the library, one that he never used. I borrowed his library card and went to visit the library.
This library gave me the big opportunity to read, understand and analyze the truth of many writings and writers. I consider this very personal, hence this library is very close to my heart.
I still do not have a membership at the library. But now, knowing about its current deplorable state, I think I must get one at the next opportunity- my humble effort to improve traffic and to sustain this wonderful library!
Libraries Of Our Lives:
Siva is right, you know. This is a library in distress.
An ongoing civil suit regarding who should govern the library saps a lot of energy and funds, and keeps away grants and tax waivers that are its due. The transfer of 60,000 books from the District Central Library, which is due for demolition, is stalled due to the litigation. The salaries of the employees were deferred for several months last year. There was also news of the library introducing draconian rules in an attempt to keep book thieves away, but in effect making it too exclusive for students.
The Kerala Govt did find some funds (10 Lakh Rupees) for the library in 2014, giving it a shot in the arm, but will that be enough to pay the employees, buy new books, and take care of the damaged ones?
“Kozhikkottukar” (The people of Kozhikode), who are very proud of their cultural heritage and this landmark library, are working hard to to keep it alive. We hope some of our readers will join hands with them.
Further Read: ” A Library in its Last Chapter” The Hindu Dec 2013 : http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/a-library-in-its-last-chapter/article5443268.ece