Bookstores may be reporting declining sales, but Bandra’s reading habit just got a shot in the arm. A 5,000 square foot space on Hill Road has recently been converted into the suburb’s first reading room, Bai Ratanbai Gharda Memorial Library, which also houses a circulation library.
Open from 9 am to 10 pm, the reading room is intended as a space for students or anyone looking for a peaceful place to bury themselves in their favourite book. “Dr Keki Gharda loves reading and wanted to promote this habit among the young,” says librarian Veena Divey. “The reading room is also for those from well-off families who can’t find a quiet corner to study at home. Some are so lost in their books that we have to remind them that it’s closing time.”
While the reading room is divided into an Internet access space on the ground floor and a more bare-bones hall on the first floor, the library is located in the basement. It currently holds around 8,000 books on topics from self-help to kiddie tales and biographies, and is waiting on a shipment of another 3,000 books and magazines.
“The books are all from Dr Gharda’s personal collection, built up over the past 30 years, from stores in Mumbai and abroad. Some of the management tomes, which are popular with MBA students, can’t be found anywhere else in the city,” Divey mentions, adding, “We also have a concise collection of famous biographies and a well-equipped travel section.”
The reading room, which charges Rs 100 for a lifetime membership, currently has 86 members. The library enlists 21. On a refundable deposit of Rs 500, and a recurring membership fee of Rs 100 a month, members can check out books or magazines for a period of 14 days.
Bai Ratanbai Gharda Memorial Library is at Gharda House near Elco Market, Hill Road, Bandra W.