For the past few months, Bandra resident Vibha Kamat has been reaching out to her friends and relatives demanding their children’s old Tinkles and Nancy Drew books.
Kamat and her friends, Sonal Bimal and Vaishali Shinde, have taken up the task to revamp the Maharashtra Mitra Mandal’s public library, which is nestled on the ground floor of the Princess building near the Bandra Gymkhana on D’Monte Park Road.
“Despite being centrally located, hardly anybody visited the library. It needed a makeover and new books,” said Kamat, who teaches French at the Alliance Francaise.
The revamped library, which will cater to children, will open its doors by the month-end. While budding artists are busy brightening up the library’s walls, the 2000 books collected so far are slowly filling up the specially designed shelves. Initially, the library will include only children’s books, both fiction and non-fiction in English, Hindi and Marathi. “We made sure that the books were in good condition. No stains and no torn pages,” said Bimal. “Some of the donors sent brand new books for the library.”
The trio plans to expand the library to cater to elders as well in a few months. The library membership would be Rs100 per month and there will be a security deposit for each book borrowed. Municipal school students will be able to avail of the facility for free.
“We have also approached school principals to encourage children to use the library and are creating awareness by putting up posters and distributing handouts,” said Bimal. Activities such as author interactions, guided film viewings and a book club are also on the cards. “We will also include a class on library etiquette,” said Shinde.
The Mandal’s management is determined to revive the public library. “Earlier, barely 20 people used the library on weekdays,” said Shyam Karmarkar, general secretary of the Mandal. “With the invasion of television and films, reading no longer makes for entertainment. Children have to be turned back into readers, which will help put their imagination to test,” he added.
Children are happy with the idea of having a dedicated space for reading. “It is very difficult to make space for reading time at home because of distractions such as the television and video games,” said Aumkar Padiyar, 12, a Class 8 student of Podar International School, Santacruz.