In January 2010, the British Council and its popular library will have a new address. Moving out of Nariman Point’s Mittal Towers, the British Council (BC) will shift to the spanking new India Bulls Centre at Lower Parel.
The Council is no stranger to a change in location. Since 1953, UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations has relocated thrice, but each time within south Mumbai.
The move to Lower Parel will lengthen the book trail for many of the library’s 4,600 members — 50 per cent of them live in south Mumbai.
The upside is that the library will now be entirely accessible online — the physical library will cease to exist — under a new service called MyLibrary (to begin when the shift happens).
“At its peak in the early ‘80s, the BC library had 28,000 members, because there were limited reading resources back then. By working offsite and having books delivered to homes, we’re hoping to improve ease of access. With this move out of Nariman Point, we’re forecasting a big leap in membership,” said Simon Gammell, director, BC.
As an incentive for membership, MyLibrary promises additional benefits: The rental on borrowed books will not be time-bound. Also, no late fees, 24-hour access to the library, and a collection of over 40,000 e-books, at no extra cost.
“The new location will put us in the centre of the city, and allow us to focus on our programmes, rather than manage all that space for which we will have little use now,” Gammell said.
The shift also implies the BC will no longer have its accompanying auditorium.
“It’s a great auditorium but it was not used very often,” Gammell explained. “We’ll collaborate with other venues as we’ve done previously with Blue Frog, Zenzi and Taj Land’s End. The attempt is to take events into the city, and not restrict them to Nariman Point.”
Its members haven’t yet been told of the new plans, but the BC has found, through an informal survey, that most of its members are comfortable with the new online format.