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The dismal state of public libraries in India
As per a survey report by ORG-Marg, there are about 55000 public libraries in India, though barring a few, most of them have either closed or are in dilapidated condition.

Most of these public libraries are managed by voluntary organizations, but due to lack of adequate financial support from the public, they are decaying. Only those public libraries which are supported by public library legislation or state governments, through continuous grant-in-aid, are functioning.

In urban planning by the government, there is no provision for establishing libraries, though public sites are reserved for creating schools, religious centres, hotels, commercial buildings etc. This shows the apathy of the government towards education in general and libraries in particular.

While I was studying in school at Shimla, I always looked forward to Sundays when I would visit the public library situated on the Ridge. It was such a pleasure to spend 2-3 hours in the library reading and admiring books.

"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life." - Mark Twain

Books transport childrenintothe world of dreams, of unexplored frontiers where their imagination and dreams take wings. In today's world which we call the age ofinformation, sadly there is no focus on creating good libraries where students can go and read the books of their choice.

In India, particularly, we have not fostered the habits of developing a learning attitude amongst children because of overt focus in our education system on passing the examinations and getting degrees rather than developing the cognitive faculty of a child. Only good books can enlighten a mind and propel it into a thinking domain. The instant ready-made system of cracking an examination remains the hallmark of our education system.

I have seen while travelling abroad how much focus is on good library system, developed in line with modern technological advances by assimilating digital technology and videos in libraries. In US, I visited one library and found so many parents with their children opting for books and videos.

Public Library in Columbus, Ohio, USA

Library in USA

"Now I stay in Gurgaon. Gurgaon is no city for those who like to spend hours in a library. The concrete jungle has over five dozen malls and over 2,000 swanky high-rise residential and commercial complexes, but it is still missing a well-equipped library. In the name of a public library, Gurgaon has one small library building with dusty books, broken chairs and erratic power supply." But the city's bibliophiles have found an alternative to their reading woes, thanks to online social networking. Book lovers are depending on city-based social media groups to exchange and read books. A small library dedicated to childrens' books and toys, though has opened in the city recently.

I think, the situation is no different in any other city of India. This is a vicious circle, no libraries so no reading habits being cultivated, no value to good writers and poets. Writers too, therefore, want to either write materials which can be projected through electronic media or publish abroad where there is respect for writers. I have attended many literary fests in India which are sadly dominated by journalists, page 3 celebrities or political activists masquerading as writers. This is a very disappointing situation.

Governments and academia - both should work towards creating libraries in major cities and towns where books, videos, music CDs should be made available. Schools should take students for library tours to revive the pleasure of reading books and illuminating young minds in new India.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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