A school in Kasba has installed a bookshelf outside the campus, beside the gate, for residents of the locality to pick up books and read, an initiative aimed at encouraging reading.
The idea is to make books available to those who don't have, from people who don't need them anymore.
The street library, as it is called, is an initiative of Silver Point School and iLEAD, a private institute that offers a host of professional courses. The library was opened on Friday with an initial collection of 500 books.
The books are not under lock and key. Anyone can pick up a book at any time of the day, read it and return.
“We want to promote the habit of reading. We will keep replenishing and make books available to those who don’t have easy access to books,” said Sucharita Roychowdhury, the headmistress of Silver Point School.
From pictorial books to stories by Ruskin Bond and travel magazines, there is something for everybody.
Pradip Chopra of iLEAD, who started the project about two-and-a-half years back, has set up 20 bookshelves in the city, some of which are in parks and slums.
“The exchange of books from those who don’t need them to those who need them is happening at the lowest possible cost because there is no manpower required and no rent,” said Chopra, the
chairman of the iLEAD Foundation.
“The exchange is unsupervised. Even if a book is stolen for reading, the purpose is served.”
Each bookshelf has a fibre curtain to protect the books from the elements.
The concept of a street library also encourages people to keep books on the shelf that they no longer need.
Chopra said he learnt about street libraries during a visit to Sydney, where he saw book racks outside homes and in public spaces.
Silver Point School has also kept two chairs beside the shelf so that one can also sit there and read.
“In the locality there are makeshift stalls where vendors sell fritters and children roam around. While we were setting the street library, we noticed that the children were taking interest in it. If these children touch, smell or feel the books, half the work is done,” said headmistress Roychowdhury.
The Covid pandemic has yanked many children off studies. Not all can afford a personalised device for online class.
“The habit of reading is to be encouraged among the children of any community,” Chopra said.
He said he had seen rickshaw-pullers pick up books from a shelf that was set up outside Vidyanjali International School.