Mobile library rolls in reading habit among Thane kids, a big hit among senior citizens too

The library, which has a stock of 10,000 books, works seven days a week crisscrossing the city

mumbai Updated: Feb 18, 2018 00:36 IST
Ankita G Menon
Ankita G Menon
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Thane,mobile library
Children busy reading at the library. The initiative, which is four years old, has become popular among kids.(Praful Gangurde/HT)

On Saturday evening, 8-year-old Nikhil Nair was patiently waiting near Ozone Valley at Parsiknagar near Kharegaon with a book in his hand. His face erupted with joy as soon as he saw a white and blue bus heading towards him. An elated Nikhil hopped on to the bus to choose his book companion for the week. Around 450 such children from across Thane city wait every week just like Nikhil for their mobile book library to arrive. An initiative started around four years ago to entice book lovers by Marathi Granth Sanghralaya (MGS), it has since become popular among children.

Pranali Khobole, the librarian of the mobile library, said that out of the 1,100 subscriptions that the library has gained in the last few years, 450 are children. To ensure more children are interested in reading, they include more children-oriented English books, she said.

Sachin Sutar, who drives the mobile library, popularly known as the Granth yaan, said, “Children are so excited about getting their hands on a book that they do not wait to get home and instead start reading from within the bus. We have made arrangements within the bus to read but not many can wait here so as the numbers increase we have to ask them to leave. However, they are so eager for the books that sometimes if we are stuck in traffic for 10 minutes also we start getting calls.”

“I love to visit the small mobile library and choosing a book for myself; this has become a weekly activity. I love to read and this library is a boon as I have many choices every week,” said 13-year-old Meena Iyer, a resident of Kashish Park near Checknaka.

The mobile library has a stock of more than 10,000 books that the readers can borrow and read from; books are available in English, Hindi and Marathi. The bus halts at each stop for around 1.5 hours. It covers five spots a day.

Khobole said the library tries to keep its fee reasonable. It charges a monthly fee of Rs100 monthly with an entry fee of Rs50 and deposit of Rs500. It charges a late fee of Rs1 per day. The most popular spots for children are Kharegaon, Kasarvadavli and Upvan, Khobole said. Besides children, a number of senior citizens from Vrindavan society near Eastern Express Highway also eagerly gather around the library upon its arrival.

Srikanth Tavade, 67, from Vrindavan Society is an avid reader has been a member of the Marathi Granth Sanghralaya since his college days, said “This is one of the oldest libraries and I have been a member since my college days, but since the last seven years due to ill health I avoid travelling in crowded places. This makes it very difficult for me to go to the library. Initially, my son used to exchange books for me on his way back from work but since the Granth yaan began I prefer waiting at the stop and choosing books myself. There is a different joy to be surrounded by books in the library, I used to miss that but thanks to this initiative I have revived my joy for reading.”

Started due to the great demand by book lovers who lived at distant places and could not make it to the library, Granth yaan functions all seven days of the week. The first stop is at 12.30 pm and it wraps up its services around 8.30 every evening except on Friday mornings; this is reserved for maintenance and to add more books in the bus. Following a time-table, it visits each of its stops once a week. The library covers around 35 major areas in Thane city.

The Thane Marathi Granth Sanghralaya was started by Vinayak Laxman Bhave in 1883, a writer of Maharashtra saraswat and resident of Thane. This was the first full-fledged Marathi library in the nation, and has taken various measures over the years for book lovers. The Granth yaan was started in 2014 and within months, it plans to go in for digitalisation of its books, and make available e-books and e-library for its customers.

First Published: Feb 18, 2018 00:33 IST