KATHMANDU, Dec 4: Ritesh Sharma, 19, got his membership at the AWON library two months ago. AWON is situated in Kupondole. “I like to read books and I joined this library because it has a good collection. My college library doesn’t have a good variety of fiction. It’s expensive to buy all the books but I want to read on my own and so borrowing books from the library is a good option,” says Sharma.
Although he can probably easily access e-book versions, he prefers to read tangible books.
Sharma is amongst the group of young people who still go to libraries and find the joy in this romantic process of searching for a book from the shelves full of books and also taking them home or just the joy in sitting in a quiet atmosphere surrounded by so much literature, reading for your own pleasure.
Prayush Shrestha, 20, however, belongs to the category of people who have stopped going to libraries. “I used to be a member of the British Council Library earlier but it closed down few years ago and then I started going to the Kathmandu Valley Public Library,” recalls Shrestha.
An avid reader, he used to frequent the libraries not only to check out books but he wanted to read, and also to meet like-minded people who were passionate about books. “I used to exchange book recommendations with the people who I met in the library,” he shares. However, due to lack of time and the fact that the advent of internet made finding books online easier, Shrestha no longer visits libraries.
For the past 20 years, Kesar Man Kapali has worked as an Assistant Librarian at AWON Library. “Today the numbers of individuals who come to the library have decreased but we have a lot of students who still come,” says Kapali.
The 50-year-old library which runs through donations, houses 20,000 books across genres from fiction through non-fiction.
“The turnover of people varies on the days. We have a maximum number of people come in during Saturdays,” shares Kapali who thinks that a library can be made more popular by updating its resources be it in the terms of new books or providing internet facilities for the purpose of research. “We also haven’t publicized ourselves much,” he says. The library itself can be a tricky one to find to newcomers since it is nicely camouflaged by a variety of stores.
On the other hand, the Kathmandu Valley Public Library situated at Bhritikutimandap is located in an area surrounded by colleges and educational institutions. Hence, Govinda Raj Dahal, Senior Library Assistant feels that the library is more accessible to students.
“I also feel that young people have developed a habit of reading and hence, the library attracts a lot of youth,” says Dahal. According to him, out of the 200 people who come to the library on average, any given day, about 70 of them are young people. The library has a separate section for the children.
Known for its research resources, the Nepal National Library in Pulchowk is visited by a lot of students who are doing their thesis papers and by scholars who are researching in general.
“We have realized that instead of getting people to come to libraries, it is time to take libraries to the people. Hence, although in a limited way, we have also started a digital library on our website where people can access selected books on their laptops,” says Yadav Chandra Nirola, the chief Librarian.
Owner of Quixote’s Cove bookshop, Suvani Singh recalls the times when her father dropped her off at a library, where she used to spend hours. “The British Council Library is where I used to be most of the times.
Later on, I also started going to the Kaiser Library and spend my time leafing through the collection of old and rare books there,” shares Singh for whom the love of books, which developed through the visits to the library, in a way, is what inspired her to open a bookshop of her own.
Libraries are important places in the sense that they give easy access to a lot of books because of which the culture of reading is encouraged. It is a treasure cove for those who love to read and can’t buy all the books on their own.