Reading is an inspiring and fruitful activity, but city libraries especially that fall under the government are far away even from the basic 'musts' of a library. They hardly get any readers since they lack the basic infrastructure which can attract readers.
Albeit all these libraries have a popular location in different nooks and corners of the city, a few citizens are aware that they even exist.
It is shocking to find that none of the youngsters know about these libraries according to the survey done by HT. Surinder Kaur, a government teacher, says, "If a library doesn't have proper infrastructure, how will it ever become popular?"
The district library on the State Bank road at Rani Ka Bagh may discourage any reader to step in. The small lawn outside the old building of the library seems to have been never trimmed. As per the HT team's visit of about 30 minutes, no attendant was noticed in the small library that accommodates about 20 old chairs. The chairs and tables were dusty and all books available were of very old editions. As per the displayed books in the cupboards, there was no sign of latest books and shockingly the worst part was that there was no proper lighting for a good reading. The story is not very different for other libraries in the walled city.
BM Singh, a city-based writer, who has been to the district library many a time, says, "The library is horrible where books are hardly respected as many books are torn and new books are hardly welcomed."
He further bewails that librarian there is hardly available who seems to have no knowledge about books and maintaining a library in a professional manner.
According to most citizens, students from weaker sections of society have no other option but to be dependent on these libraries, but the rich have many options who can afford good libraries like the "One Up". "The fees of the library may not be painful for the students from rich families, but what about the poor students who cannot afford the expensive prices of these libraries," says Baljinder Kaur, a government teacher. "The authorities concerned must ensure to update the libraries like the private ones so that weaker sections of the society do not have to suffer," she added.
"Libraries in the hands of the government need great improvement. They must try to match their standards with branded libraries where computers are also available. All kinds of latest books are available, including the facility of electronic books. Besides, these libraries should also be opened in villages and not just be confined to the cities," opines Jatinder Brar, an eminent play writer and owner of Punjab Naatshala.
The city not only needs more libraries, but in this hi-tech era, we need virtual libraries, especially areas already underprivileged to have classroom aids. The poor class needs them more than the city's rich.
Kanwar Ritesh Talwar, a lecturer
The libraries should also be spread to villages and must match the standards of branded libraries Jatinder Brar, play writer and owner of Punjab Naatshala.
In the era of technological advancements, the government needs to lay special emphasis on their development so as to combat the cut-throat competition and public libraries do not match contemporary standards.
Pallavi Marwaha, a lecturer
"Government libraries will never be able to attract readers if they cannot improve themselves in every way which includes basic infrastructure to books, hygiene and so on. Samridhi Mehra, a media student
We have plans to improve all government libraries. We will take care of every aspect from basic infrastructure to books DPS Kharbanda, municipal commissioner.