Mangaluru: I still remember going into this library every evening after college hours to read newspapers and sports magazines- and that was nearly three decades ago when I was a BSc student at St Aloysius College-Mangaluru. Like time changes, every thing has changed inside City Central Library, located near St Aloysius College, Lighthouse Hill Road here, when I made a visit couple days ago. The library had got an extreme makeover, with new facilities, renovated areas, additional floor, huge collection of reading materials, an Internet browsing section, play area for children and much more. Wow-this library has really spruced-up and simply looks great.
While we choose libraries based on the collection of books that they have, there are several other things that go into making a library a truly special one. The books they hold, the literature and art they preserve and their beautiful architecture are all part of making them what one would consider amazing. The culture of a whole nation can be filled within the four walls of a library. And for that matter, the renovated City Central library has all the facilities to cater to the needs of ardent readers.
The library has a fairly large entry area, with a place for checking in one’s bags and a central reception area. It was clean and had several people milling about and reading books and newspapers. An upstairs area was filled with more people reading – my unscientific estimate was that most of the people patronizing the library were men. Several students and young people appeared to be studying for exams and doing school work on the desks adjacent to the stacks.
I walked into the Deputy Director of the City Central Library, KV Raghavendra’s office to get more information on this library. Sitting in this office gave me the opportunity to observe typical Indian hierarchical office interactions – a number of obsequious employees filed into his office, with some signature or other needed on a piece of paper, which was attached to a ragged file folder. After observing this spectacle for quite few minutes, he eventually showed me around the library.
Raghavendra claims that around 300-400 people per day visit the library, and during weekends the number could exceed over 700-800. This number should not be difficult to ascertain – most public libraries I have noticed have a visitor log that each patron must sign upon first entering the library- and for that matter, this library also has a sign in book- but I witnessed some visitors skip signing the log book. On the timings and fees charged by the library, he said, “We are open from 8.30 am to 8 pm, six days a week, and closed on Mondays, second Tuesday of every month and government holidays. There is a membership application fee of Rs 1, and for life membership of Rs 100- one can borrow three books, for Rs 75-two books and for Rs 50-one book, and the fees are refundable. As of 20 August, 2015 we have 24,199 members, and 89,322 books, excluding magazines and newspapers”.
The library features a children’s play area where the kids can play or read children books when they come into the library with their parents or adults. As part of the renovation, this new children play area, Internet browsing centre and a Competition Exam Study Centre for those preparing for UPSE, IIT and other competitive examinations were launched in November 2014 during National Library Week. Why pay up to Rs 30-Rs 40 at Cyber per hour for Internet browsing, while this library charges only Rs 10 for an hour to use the Internet. But few social/porn websites are banned, and also a library staff keeps an eye on the Internet users activity. There are about six computers for patrons use.
The library was established in 1969, and is funded wholly by Mangaluru City Corporation through the library tax paid by the citizens of Mangaluru. The additional floor added to the existing building features books classified into science, literature, and environment. Also has rich collections of biographies. All books are bar-coded using e-granthalaya software, and there is no fee for the use of books in the library. The library has sufficient number of seats for the readers. As far as parking facilities are concerned, it has sufficient area for two-wheeler parking.
The City Central Library is an ideal place for college students, as several students and youngsters appeared to be studying for exams, working on school assignments and projects. Steven, a student of St Aloysius College said, “We come here and do combined studies, as our exams are approaching. We prefer this library over others for many reasons. Firstly, it has almost all the books we require. Secondly,the noise from traffic is comparatively less.” Another reader, Sushma said, “I am doing a distant course, hence, I get all the materials that I need for my studies.”
Merlyn speaking to mangalorean.com said, ” I come to this library every evening with my two kids who are 4 and 3 years old- with the play area introduced here, my kids play while I read newspapers and magazines. I like this concept of the play area for children at a library, and my kids love to escort me whenever I decide to go to the library. I find it fruitful to spend time here at the library which has all the facilities and reading materials”.
So if you haven’t visited the renovated City Central Library, make it a point to visit and feel the difference. Celebrate India’s “Freedom” with “Free-Reading” at CCL! Happy Reading! Happy Browsing! Happy Playing!