Bookworms' paradise

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By TT Bureau
  • Published 31.01.07
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Readers at the Muslim Library. A Telegraph file pix
Books galore

Ben Macintyre (The Times columnist) in an article, “Paradise Is Paper, Vellum and Dust” said: “Where does a student run to when he needs to do a project for school, when his exams are round the corner, or when he needs some reference on the competitive exam. Well, to the library of course!”

Why only students? Everyone at some point feels the need of a good library, be it a homemaker or a businessman. Jamshedpur proudly boasts of great schools and colleges, but along with them, it also has many libraries with their vast collection of books, journals and encyclopedias. “In today’s world of Internet and computers it is amazing to see how many people are still dependent on books,” said A.K. Singh, a regular at SNTI Library. “Surfing on the net is a costlier proposition than the library where I can sit for hours every day at a nominal price, which I pay once a year,” says Radhika Mitra, a banker.

And libraries in the steel city seem to be a hit among students, especially those appearing for competitive examinations. But what makes the Jamshedpur libraries so good? The Telegraph finds out.

Not the perfect world

It is not that the libraries are offering the world to the members. The absence of cafeterias is a problem. But that void is filled by roadside eateries. What brings in the students are proper amenities like reading rooms, drinking water facilities and clean lavatories. The peace and quiet attracts regulars making most members hold on to their membership for years.

Best bet

It is not only the members, who are proud of being a part of the library, but also the librarian. “The profession is immensely satisfying,” says Suman Singh of Suman Children’s Library. Members unanimously agree that Jamshedpur librarians are the “best” when it comes to going that extra step to help find that particularly hard-to-find edition.

Indexing

Nearly all libraries usually carry a wide collection of magazines and journals, which come every month. A few of them are India Today, Sananda, Week, Sportstar, Business India, Good Housekeeping and Health. For students there are Civil Service Chronicle, Science Reporter, Competition Success and Pratiyogita Darpan. Then there are the usual reference books for Plus Two and above, as well as books on astrology, wildlife and encyclopedias. So, from the retired schoolmaster to the hopeful student, let’s just say they are all covered pretty well.

Bookworms welcome

Some of the popular names in the city are Shavak Nanavati Technical Institute (SNTI) Library, Dinshaw Memorial Library, Muslim Library, Suman Children Library and the library run by Youth Unity for Voluntary Action or Yuva. Then there is a unique one just for environmental studies and wildlife, inside the Tata Steel Zoological Park (TSZP) premises.

Among them the SNTI library at Bistupur has more than four lakh books in English, Hindi, Bengali and Urdu. A centre mainly for employees of Tata Steel and its subsidiaries, it’s also open to non-employees at a fee.

Dinshaw Memorial or the DM in Sakchi, as it is popularly called is one of the oldest, inaugurated in 1939. Though, admittedly no new books have arrived in the past 15 years, the centre still boasts of a regular attendance. One of the most popular library, especially among college students, is the Muslim library at Bistupur. Founded in 1932, it boasts of a collection of 25,850 books, 80 journals and monthly magazines and 30 newspapers. According to library-in-charge Mohammed Ali Khan, its USP lies in its nominal fees.

Another great factor and perhaps the main reason for its popularity is that the library allows anyone to just come in and read, whether or not one is a member.But books are let to members only.