Encyclopaedia Britannica may have been replaced by Wikipedia, pages may have been replaced by page views, and books by Kindle and iPads, but that doesn't mean the smell of an old, dog-eared book has lost its charm. A case in point: The library at Uppal's Southend in Sohna Road, Gurgaon.
And you know what, it's thriving! From 400 books, it now boasts a collection of 1,000 books. Mostly donated by residents, notably by Rakesh Sareen, the books here cater to all age groups: Fairytale books for kids, and spiritual and religious books for the elderly. Besides, there are the novels and how-to books.
Uppal's Southend residents Vinod Ponniath and RK Mathur jointly manage the library
“This is not a library, this is a library plus," announces a visibly proud RK Mathur, who manages the library. SS Lohan, Anil Rastogi, KC Jain and Harish Tandon pioneered the initiative along with him.
Yes, you have bestsellers by Chetan Bhagat and Sidney Sheldon, but then sharing shelf space are also books by RK Narayan, Satyajit Ray and Premchand. Looking for a book not available? No worries. "If it's a popular book with lots of requests, we buy it," says Mathur.
Funded by membership fees (lifetime membership for Rs 400 and regular membership for Rs 100), the library is open to other societies in the vicinity as well. Books are issued on Fridays and Saturdays between 9.30 am and 10.30 am, and in the evening between 5.30 pm and 6.30 pm. When this reporter visited the library, he found quite a number of residents buried in books.
So what are the plans? "We want to serve and reach out to the maximum number of residents. We want to turn it into a skill development programme. We also plan to automate the library management process," says Vinod Ponniath, another manager of the library.
After all, a cultured society is not measured by its swimming pool, you know.