Libraries should not be just for adults, they should be a place where children can read and spread their thoughts and ideas, said Uma Mahadevan Dasgupta, senior secretary of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR). And this is what they plan to implement in rural libraries in Karnataka. A few months ago, the Karnataka government public libraries transferred Gram Panchayat libraries to RDPR for development and overall management. “Shortly after we took over the management of 5,622 rural libraries across the state, I held a meeting to find out how many libraries are functioning and how many are not. ideas to understand how to make these libraries functional and attract people from these rural areas to reading. At this point we also thought about creating a section for children – for the 6-14 age group ”, explains Uma.
Uma and her team created unique posters to post on social media and stick them on the walls of these libraries. The RDPR department asked individuals and organizations to generously donate new or lightly used children’s books. “This initiative is called ‘Donate the Gift of Reading’. When I tweeted this poster through my Twitter account, I also told people about the various collection points for these books. Although we did not see lots of responses over the first two or three days, we haven’t given up hope. Soon thousands of people and organizations including NIMHANS, Pratham Publishers, a nonprofit called Yuva, and others have donated boxes of books Then St Joseph’s Boys High School gave us a place on their campus and we made it a collection point for a few days Lots of people came to drop off their books.
To date, Uma and her team have collected nearly 15,000 books which will then be distributed to all rural libraries in Karnataka. In addition to the book drives, the RDPR plans to form a Gram Panchayat committee to look after the libraries. These committees can also organize various fun activities for children and adults. Since the RDPR wants to develop the reading habit in these children, it will also soon be announcing its membership plans for children. Uma explains, “We know it’s a tough time right now and a lot of people have lost their jobs, so they might not have enough to deposit for members. In such cases, the Gram Panchayat will deposit this money on their behalf. We will provide books in both English, Kannada and the language most widely used in their villages. These books will either be story books or something related to their school curriculum.