For 75-year-old BC Joshi, the public library at Sector 3, Vasundhara brings back memories of his youth when he used to spend time in the quiet library of his college, which used to be the only source of information on astrology, a subject that held his interest.
A retired engineer of the Union ministry of power, the Sector 6 resident now goes to the public library opened by the NGO Saarthak Prayas everyday from 4 pm to 7 pm. He reads books on astrology and also offers free consultation at the library itself. However, unlike the libraries of his youth, this one is largely occupied only by other senior citizens.
“Young people rarely visit libraries these days as everything is available on the Internet. This library has also failed to attract more people,” said Joshi.
In 2004, residents of Shipra Riviera apartments in Indirapuram opened a library in the premises with much enthusiasm. Almirahs were put up to stack the books donated by residents, apart from magazines and newspapers. However, it was shut down in 2009 as maintaining the library had become a burden for its residents’ welfare association (RWA).
“People used to tear pages from the books or take the books away with them. Gradually, only senior citizens used to visit the library. The number of books also came down as many were stolen. Hence, we decided to shut it down,” said Sunita Nagpal, former president of Shipra Riviera RWA.
A similar trend can be seen in other community library initiatives by city residents. Those in charge of such libraries feel that, over the years, the response has not been what they had expected.
Apart from senior citizens who come to the libraries to read and spend time, the footfall from other age groups is not much, they say.
“Children do come to our library, but only during exams since we have some academic books as well. However, the only regulars in the library are senior citizens who spend their leisure time reading books on subjects of their interest,” said Umesh Chandra Pant, in-charge of the library at Vasundhara’s Sector 3.