Seated underneath the shades of the Avenue tree (Honge) hundreds of passersby of all age groups can be seen reading newspapers, magazines and books at the shop behind Akkana Balaga School, Agrahara.
Though its not a public library, the place has become a reading spot for a year for the passersby. Thanks to this septuagenarian B Prabhakar (75 yeas) whose love towards popularization of Kannada language has made him to set up this exclusive Kannada open library for the general public and has named it ‘Edu Namma Odina Mane’.
People of all age groups and all walks of life visit the library to read newspapers and books. On an average 120 people visit the library every day. The books are arranged in an orderly manner and a limited seating arrangement has been made for the readers.
The library has more than 1500 books in its collection which includes books written by famous Kannada litterateurs like Ravi Bilegere, SL Bhyrappa, Triveni, UR Ananthamurthy, Radha Devi and several renowned Kannada novelists. He built up his collection of books by purchasing them in installments from a known vendor while some of them have been donated by a couple of well wishers.
To promote Kannada, he requests the visitors to his library to put their signatures in Kannada in their daily correspondence. Interestingly, he also teaches to read and write in Kannada for non-Kannadigas. Being an avid lover of Kannada, he stresses the need of creating curiosity in the young minds to read in their native tongue and the resulting benefits it has in enhancing their knowledge.
“There is a very good response from the public for library as more and more number of people keep visiting the library with the passing years.Due to old age, I am unable to keep the library open full time, but only between 8 am to 1 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm,’ says Prabhakaran,, who is a founder of Seva Vedike Organisation.
Girija Sampath a senior citizen residing nearby said that she has been visiting the library for the past three years as she enjoys reading books than watching serials. She dedicates daily 4-6 hour for reading, and opines by reading there is lot of benefits for the development of mind while encouraging one to face challenges of life. She reads on an average two books every month. reads two – three books.
Another reader Jawahar Muganwar from Belgavi said: ‘Every day I visit the library and read papers. There is very good response for the library. With the readers are declining, such initiatives helps to popularise Kannada works.'
Journey of four decades
Prabhakar has dedicated his life for the popularisation of Kannada for the past four decades. It was four decades ago he started a circulating library, and a decade ago decided to set up a free public library.
He converted a portion of his house for the library following financial crunch. Just a year ago he rented a shop and housed the books in the library. The costs of rent and maintenance of the library which is around Rs 5000 is managed by around 30 regular readers.
Nearly 200 people have become members by paying Rs 50 yearly and borrow books to the home. Initially, there were few members but as years went by the numbers gradually dwindled and today I have more than 200 members and hundreds of people daily come to library, says Prabhakaran.