The mobile library in the remote village of Pikla Thanda in Telangana has become such a hit with the villagers that the district administration plans to replicate this cost-effective model in all tribal dwellings
Pikla Thanda, a little-known tribal dwelling in Telangna, is suddenly making headlines. A gram panchayat of 1,000 people in Kumuram Bheem-Asifabad district, the Thanda (tribal dwelling) normally finds little space outside the revenue registers. Located far from the district headquarters or any town worth its salt, the village is untouched by the rapidly changing urban culture in one of India’s wealthiest states.
Literacy in the village is low and unemployment high. The young spend their time wandering in the forests and fields. Most villagers haven’t even seen a newspaper. Most people are also not very interested in catching up with the outside world. So there was no reason for the village, which is home to two large Lambada and Gond tribes, to be in the news.
But now suddenly the village has made headlines for establishing an eco-friendly and friendly library and probably the smallest library in India, last week. Thanks to the initiative of sarpanch Banoth Mangibhai Kishan, the district administration chose the village to set up a small library for the benefit of students and the public.
Open-air library at Pikla Thanda
The open installation
The library is nothing but a small wooden box with a glass door, fixed on a long wooden post. A creative marvel, the library houses a variety of books. One can find books for children as well as those on the history of Telangana, literature, Niti Satakas, guides for competitions and English grammar. A few books written by Sri Sri and Kaloji, household names in the Telugu states, are also on display.
Banoth Haritha, who has completed her teacher training course, was happy to have found a much sought after and useful book for preparing for teacher recruitment exams. “I can’t buy the book because we are poor. I can’t even borrow it from friends as we are in a remote area. Although small, this library is extremely useful,” said Harith.
Every day, from dawn to dusk, the tiny library was stationed at Rachabanda, a platform in the center of the village. Two benches are arranged in the shade of a tree for visitors. Anyone can come and read a book. In the evening, the library is transferred to the local gram panchayat office. Book lending should also start soon.
The low-cost bookcase can be carried to any place in the village effortlessly. A staff member of the gram panchayat is in charge.
The mobile library has become a center of attraction in the village. Many villagers, who had never seen a book other than their ration cards in their lifetime, experience the feel of the printed book for the first time, although they do not know what is in these books.
The villagers responded to the opening of the library with great enthusiasm. They cleared and cleaned the place chosen to park the library and a rangoli was designed to accommodate it.
The small library has created a stir in the village, admitted Borlakunta Manish, secretary of the gram panchayat. “Since its inception a week ago, almost every male member of the village has visited the library, opened the box and inquired about the books,” Manish said. The Federal.
The library has also captured the attention of students and young people. They visit the library and spend time talking about books. “That’s exactly what we thought we were achieving,” said a senior official who helped conceptualize the library.
“We want to break the conventional concept of the library in a backward and predominantly tribal area. We see a curious lack of interest in education among the population and young people. They have no role models to inspire them. The level of education is so poor that even a seventh grade student cannot read Telugu well and recognize the English alphabet.
They hardly know any books except those they have in their schoolbags. Out of 1,000 people in the village, we found only 176 literate, of whom a handful were educated, but their level was below average. The library is a minor attempt to improve the situation, first by creating a love for books and instilling reading habits in students,” the official said.
According to the manager, a conventional library, which requires a pucca building, lots of shelves, chairs and other accessories, is not suitable in this area “It is an expensive proposition costing around Rs 5-6 lakh. Our small library is cost effective and the cost can be easily covered by the gram panchayat. The Pikla Thanda library was created at a meager cost of Rs 12,000,” explained the official, who did not want to be identified.
Sarpanch Banoth Mangibai Kishan is delighted with the buzz created by the library. When officials came up with the proposal, she was the one who insisted that such a library be set up in her village first.
“I am inspired by our collector and additional collector sir. Gentlemen told us about the benefits of having a good education. Our children need to be educated. I think this library would create an interest in education in children” , said Mangibai, who is illiterate herself.As she does not speak Telugu, she speaks through her husband.
She dreams of a day when the village will be bustling with activity and the local primary school will have a large number of students.
Mandal Panchayat Development Officer (MPDO) JR Prasad said public response to the tiny open-air library was encouraging.
Officials have a plan to replicate this cost-effective model in all tribal homes soon. “The district administration is negotiating with the NGO Pratham to make books available that meet local requirements and demands,” another official said.
The history of the library movement in Telangana as elsewhere is full of fascinating stories and amazing creative ideas. The unquenchable love for books has led some people down difficult paths to bring the book to people living in remote illiterate areas. In the process, every conceivable moving object such as camel, donkey, ox cart, bicycle, handcart, two-wheeler, three-wheeler, van, bus, etc., has become one day or another library carrier .
The trolley shop-library pioneered by Md Sadik, a writer from Hyderabad, is legendary in Telangana. Sadik embarked on a mission to create 1,000 libraries in 1,000 villages in 1,000 days. The mission would have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, halfway. Now, the Pikla Thanda model is expected to open a new chapter in the Telangana library movement, especially in rural areas. The 29th state of India, if all goes well, will become a state with a library in every house.