The pages of more than 8,000 rare books at the Hardayal Municipal Public Library have among them fascinating stories of wars and victories. But for the past five months, stories of despair are the ones being told most often.
The library, which is in the danger of being shut down because of a shortage of funds, seems to be breathing its last but it has just come alive in the cyber world.
A campaign to spread awareness about the looming closure of the library, which has a number of manuscripts and rare editions of books such as the 1677 edition of Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World and the 1826 Herodotus in the Greek original, was started on the micro-blogging site Twitter last month.
The campaign, an initiative of a user with the handle @delhisultan, has caught the attention of many in Delhi.
"What good is an online campaign? BSES has sent us a letter saying they will cut the electricity supply if we don't pay bills amounting to Rs. 3 lakh," said an employee who chose to remain anonymous.
"According to a 1942 agreement with the Hardinge Memorial Library Trust, the municipal corporation has to fund the library. They have earmarked R3 crore for us, but the red tape does not help," the employee added.
"I had never even heard about the library before I read the tweet. I specially went to see what was so special about the place and fell in love with it. The government should step in and save it," said Natasha Singh, a resident of Lodhi Colony.
The mayor of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Mira Aggarwal, however, tried to wash her hands of the issue.
"The Hardinge Memorial Library Trust which runs the library is an NGO. We are under no obligation to fund them," she said.