Now Virtual Libraries To Revive Book Reading
Today we seldom find time to browse through a book or even make a note of popular titles except for those book worms who refuse to let their book reading habit die. Internet and television have absorbed our time and the million dollar question is, are we getting any value addition watching television programs dominated by cinema, more often repeated and serials with high decibel villainy characters scheming uncanny plots and driving negative emotions into us? Not to forget the kids who sit by us watching the whole drama unfold in the living room and the influence cast on their psyche without our knowledge.
Reading books served as a window to the world and made us wise years back. Sidney Sheldon, Readers digest, James Hadley Chase , Agatha Christie, Kalki, Anandha Vikatan, Ponniyin Selvan were often discussion topics. Come Diwali, the Diwali malars of popular magazines opened early bookings and vied with each other to cover interesting topics, stories by leading authors. Now virtual libraries have cached on the internet and jumped on the bandwagon to enroll members and help them choose books online and deliver books home. Read on..
For any school going kid, summer vacations mean sleeping late, running about in the sun and watching obscene amounts of television. But for some other kids, it could also mean rushing to the nearest library, spending the day there and picking out books to read.
However, these days, with home work and numerous extra-curricular activities, kids seldom have the time to read books, let alone visit a library. That’s where online libraries enter the picture. “There are times when kids have borrowed 150 books online during their summer vacations,” says Amrutash Misra, CEO, Life Online, which runs iloveread.in, a popular virtual library in the city.
With virtual libraries, book lovers can choose the books they want to read and place an order online. The books will then be delivered to their homes within a stipulated time and will also be picked up once they are done reading them. The biggest advantage of such cyber libraries is that there are no late fees. Taking into consideration the way traditional or conventional libraries work, readers sometimes have shelled out late fees that are even more than the original cost of the book!
When Malvika Mehra and her four friends wanted to start a business, an online library seemed to be the perfect option, and that’s how bookandborrow.com came into existence. “We’ve discovered that most customers who need our services are those who live in the outline areas of the city and have no access to libraries,” says Malvika. “We find it difficult to deliver books to such areas, but there are times when the readers themselves offer to pay for delivery charges,” she explains.
Have conventional libraries been feeling the pressure from these online libraries? Ravichandran V, manager, Eloor Library in T Nagar, says, “We don’t really feel any difference, we get our regular readers who like reading old books or voracious readers who spend long hours here.”
Most people prefer conventional libraries over virtual ones because of the selection of books available on the numerous rows and stacks of books. “If someone goes to a library with a particular book in mind and turns out it is not there, it is very disappointing. But with online libraries, you can check if a title is available or not before placing an order,” asserts K Sethuraman, founder, readersclub.co.in.
Everything said and done, the library experience of sitting on those low wooden stools, perusing through the back covers of books to finally land upon something that has really interested you and the small-talk with librarians with whom you’ve grown up with is lost with online libraries. “I live in Perambur, but come all the way to T Nagar to come to this library,” says K Brinda, member of Eloor Library for over 15 years. “Just being here and looking at all the books bring back memories of the times I’ve read them and it is a great experience,” she adds.
“We, as librarians, just channelized the books to our members, but at the end of the day, they won’t remember our names, but the good books that they’ve read,” points out Amrutash, whose online library is doing brilliantly well with over 2,000 members. Amrutash also explains how they have the chance to pick something from a reader’s list and suggest it to another member, as they log who reads what kind of books. This interesting pattern is one thing that is possible with just online libraries.
With reading habits dying a slow, brutal death in our city, online libraries are no doubt a boon provided we encourage and support this cause.