With the proliferation of social media and changing mediums of reading like the Kindle, libraries across major cities in India are fading away from public imagination. Making matters worse is the declining public investment in their upkeep.
Imtisunup Longchar, a Dimapur-based entrepreneur, was bothered by this trend. When he returned home from Delhi four years ago, he found out that Nagaland had approximately 80 registered rural libraries, but most of them were closed.
There is a biting lack of infrastructure for young people to nurture their reading habits, gather together, discuss and express their creativity, reports The Indian Express.
“There is a State library in Kohima run by the government, but people don’t even know it exists,” says Hekani Jakhalu, founder of Youthnet, a Kohima-based NGO that works for youth empowerment, to the publication. “In 2007, the Assam Rifles had invested in a library in the Dimapur Government College, but that shut down in 2010,” adds Longchar.
Responding to these deficiencies, Longchar wrote a post on Facebook in August 2017 expressing his desire to establish a library. Little did he know that the post would have far-reaching consequences, and trigger the establishment of quite possibly, the state’s only independent library.
Merely a week after the post, the eight-member core team behind Longchar’s Dimapur Public Library came together. In the months that followed, the team began to look for suitable spots in the town for a library, seeking donations and garnering public support.
“But funds were always a problem, and after running around for eight months, unable to find a space, we just went ahead on our own,” he says.
Housed in a two-room space, the rent for the burgeoning independent library is taken care of by the core team while books across various genres come through donations from Nagaland and the rest of the country. “We also have a registration fee for adults (Rs 300 per year) and students (Rs 100 per year) while children, elderly and people with disabilities can visit free of cost,” says Longchar. It is the only the way the library generates some form of revenue.
However, Longchar also wants to use the library as a venue for talks, lectures and book launches, among other such events, reports The Indian Express. It has been less than a week since the library was launched, and thus far 50 people have registered.
If you feel like contributing to this new venture, get in touch with them on their Facebook page.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)