Photo Credit: RUSHDI’SNAPS
Author: Rajeev Soman
This is the national library of the Maldives located in the capital city Male’. Efficiently run, the library has a good collection of books in English, both in the lending section and the reference section. The books available to borrow include both fiction and non fiction. Fee is nominal and upto 3 Books can be taken out for 21 days.
The atmosphere resembles the reference section of the British Library in Trivandrum. Everything is well maintained and computerized. The library has an excellent collection of guidebooks not just about Maldives but of places all over the world, including some very old editions which for a travel buff like me was very useful.
One thing I really appreciate about the library is that the library accepts book donations from the public as long as the items are relevant to the library’s development policy. This is actually a very positive thing in my opinion especially in a country like Maldives where a lot of expatriates work. Many book lovers would hate to discard their well loved books at the time of leaving the country yet would otherwise be forced to do so because of airline baggage regulations that are more stringent by the day . These book donations are maintained very well with an acknowledgment stamped on the book giving details about the donor. A very welcome initiative, in my opinion.
I also had a very interesting experience while reading a book taken out from the library. The book was Jeffrey Archer’s “First Among Equals” a copy of which I had purchased many years back at home. The plot is based on the UK parliamentary elections. I wanted to re-read it and thus picked up another copy from the library. When I started reading it , something appeared to be amiss. I was pretty sure that the copy I had picked up many years back in India had 3 main characters- but the same book now had 4! I was equally sure that one of the protagonists was named Charles HAMPTON but in the copy that I now held the character was named Charles SEYMOUR! And in the end, while the old one had the Conservative candidate becoming the British Prime Minister, in the new book it was the Labour Party candidate who became the Prime Minister.
By now I was in utter confusion! Finally looked up Wikipedia and the mystery resolved itself. Archer had a revised plot for the book for his US Edition and eliminated the Social Democrats altogether to make it easy for the US Readers to understand while the UK Edition had all four parties- Labour, Conservatives, Liberals and the Social Democrats. Archer also had decided that more copies would sell in the US if the Conservative candidate was the eventual winner, while for UK he allowed the Labour candidate to win. He also modified some names of the other characters as well.
To sum up, the library copy that I was reading was the UK edition and the one I had purchased in India was the “tailor made for the US” edition!
This incident of course has nothing to do with the library but I can never forget the total bewilderment I felt when I started reading the book I had just borrowed.