Bangalore’s New Age Libraries
Via Citizen Matters
Think about libraries, and what comes to mind are long, dusty rows of somewhat mangled books, and grumpy librarians. But new generation libraries in Bengaluru are far different.These libraries are not too high-brow, nor are they content with being collectors of classics or most popular reads alone. They engage with readers, consider their preferences while expanding collections, and are easily accessible with online book catalogues and door delivery options.Suman H M, 19, second year degree student at Jyothi Nivas College, has been a member of Just Books library for the last one year. “They are convenient as I can opt for door delivery any time. But I prefer to go and collect books myself as the library is close to my home,” she says. Just Books has 13 branches in Bangalore.Mylib.in, a two-year-old library in Jayanagar 9th block, takes an even more reader-centric approach. In its website, it has an option which allows members to order a book which the library does not own. The library will buy the book and lend to the person who ordered it, within seven days.“We wanted to give more flexibility to readers. Some 50-100 books get published every week. We buy 40-45% of books ourselves based on reviews, current reading trends and pre-determined demand,” say Bhavna Desai and Dilip Kumar, Founders of Mylib.in.For whose those reserve books, they are made quickly available. Being online libraries, they do not have difficulty finding customers either. “There are readers from places as far as Hebbal and Yelahanka. They order books for home delivery, but drop in at the library once in a while,” says Vani.Some libraries also give spaces for socialization and ‘family time’. Shany Augustine, Founder of the library Fun n Books in Kothanur, says that mostly families come to the library together. Started in late 2010, the library has membership of 47 families now. She says that libraries can be an alternative for families to spend time together, as compared to malls.In the case of children, activities are aimed at developing their reading habit. In fact, activities are a major focus in most exclusive children’s libraries. Discover Kids, a library in HSR Layout for children aged 2-10 years, facilitates learning through puzzles and toys, in addition to reading activities.Bangalore is good for libraries, say library owners. Young floating population in Bangalore read a variety of books; also the city has more of elite population, which read more. While technology has helped new libraries grow, growth of the publishing industry may also have contributed to growth of libraries, they say.“In mid-2000s, bookstores like Crossword started coming up and there was more focus on books as an industry. Demand was visible and more books were published too,” says Kumar of Mylib.in.