As part of the project ‘Adopt a Library’, books worth about Rs 50 lakh will be pooled in from the public.

Flood-hit libraries in Kerala to get a new lease of life thanks to Kochi book fest
news Books Saturday, February 02, 2019 - 18:14

At a time when voices of ‘Rebuild Kerala’ are echoing across the state in the face of the devastating deluge that struck a few months ago, a book fest is all set to be conducted in Kochi to revive hundreds of public libraries that were affected in the state.

Through the project ‘Adopt a Library’, Krithi International Book Fair and Knowledge Festival conducted by Sahithya Pravarthaka Co-operative Society (SPCS) will restore thousands of books to these libraries.

According to the organisers of Krithi, the project will pool in books worth about Rs 50 lakh from the public. “Libraries are not just places where people find books, they are the cultural centres of any neighbourhood, so we are doing whatever we can to revive them,” said Joby John, coordinator of Krithi.

“Through the project, people can donate old and new books or contribute money for buying. We expect active participation of individuals and various organisations in the initiative to revive the damaged libraries,” he added.

A total of 157 flood-hit libraries spanning the length and breadth of Kerala have been selected by the Kerala State Library Council (KSLC) to be part of the project.

“In most of these types of collection drives, people always show a tendency to give away the books which they need the least regardless of their merit. To avoid this, we have published a priority list of books in Krithi’s website that was prepared according to the requirement of libraries. People can also donate books that are not there in the list,” said Asha Babu, coordinator of the project.

Organisers of the fest have also planned to arrange kiosks at the venue of Krithi where people can deposit books. To make the project more reachable, kiosks will be opened at various cooperative banks across 70 taluks in the state in addition to outlets of National Book Stalls. “A bank account has also been opened through which people living outside the state can also contribute to the novel cause,” added Asha. The details of the account are available on the official website of Krithi. The money so collected will be distributed among the libraries based on the scale of their losses and grading in KSLC.

According to officials of KSLC, libraries at Ernakulam district were the most affected ones in the deluge. About 59 libraries registered under the KSLC alone were affected here, which is the highest number when compared with other districts. “We were able to source about 50,000 books post-deluge from various organisations. This initiative of Krithi will be a major boost to our works to restore the libraries,” said MR Surendran, Ernakulam district secretary of KSLC.

“The library here is around 72 years old and we have lost about 4,000 books to the floods. Most of them were rare, old collections which cannot be sourced again, like many poetry books of Changampuzha Krishna Pillai,” said Kabeer Mether, president of Janaranjini library at Chovara near Aluva in Ernakulam district. Almost all the old collections were kept in the rows near the floor and they were the first to be damaged, he said.

“We were ourselves taking shelter in various relief camps, so it wasn’t possible to protect these books. We can always buy the computers and electronic equipment that we lost, even though they are costly, but these books cannot be obtained again. After hearing about this initiative of Krithi book fest, we are hoping that kind hearts out there will contribute such rare books to us,” said Kabeer.  

Jayan KK, council member of ‘Grameena Vayanashala’ at North Paravur in Ernakulam shared similar woes of losing around 2,000 books in the deluge. “The library here was very actively involved in conducting many cultural events. Even though the library has not been restored to the original form after the floods, with active participation from people, we are also trying to source books locally,” he said.

Like Kabeer and Jayan, coordinators of hundreds of other flood-hit libraries in the state are eagerly expecting bibliophiles to donate books for the novel cause. The book fest will be conducted at Marine Drive in Kochi from February 8 to 17.