The city's bookworms head to a playground. This is why ...

The Jeet playground in Kothrud is usually populated by young people who play cricket, older people who go for a walk or shoppers who shop at the weekly market established there. However, lately, the playground has been attracting a new generation of people: bookworms.

Thanks to the open library established on the ground, you can see people of all ages sifting and leafing through all the countless books stored there.

Among those we saw leafing through the various titles was the retired teacher Madhav Solanki, whose face lit up when he saw an old book entitled Raja Yoga , by Swami Vivekanand. I've been looking for this book for quite some time, and honestly I never expected to find it here, in all places, he told us and asked: Who put it here?

The credit for this unique configuration lies with a group of young people who have joined together to launch the Open Library Movement, in order to spread the habit of reading, in addition to making available to readers several books from different eras and genres. And this is the first of those libraries that plan to open throughout the city, which is open to all and can be accessed 24x7.

A LIBRARY WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS

Abhishek Awchar, a writer by profession and a member of the group, tells us: “The idea is not only to instill the habit of reading, but also to motivate people to share. This is probably the only library in the city, free, accessible 24 hours for everyone. Anyone can come and borrow books from the shelf and return them when they are finished. Even if they don't return the book, that's fine, although we usually urge people to leave a book instead of the one they are taking. Our number is on the shelf, so that people can inform us about the book they are taking, or share a selfie of them with the book.

WHAT IF SOMEONE STEALS A BOOK? THAT WOULD BE THE BEST!

When you install something in a public space, there is always the fear of theft or destruction, and that is something that the young people also contemplated. Questions like what happens if books are stolen, what happens if someone breaks the shelf or steals everything, they crossed their minds.

“After several discussions with the team, we conclude that if books are stolen, that will be the best day. The thief really won't get any benefit from stealing books other than reading them and that's a good thing. I could even prevent them from stealing in the future and get them back on track, ”jokes Abhishek.

Another concern that arose was: who would handle it? Since everyone in the group works or studies, it is almost impossible for someone to constantly monitor the books. However, Abhishek says: We start the library with the idea that it is for the people, for the people and for the people, so we will leave the responsibility of the library to the residents. It's been a long time since we started it, and I haven't seen any theft or heard any complaints from anyone, so I guess people are appreciating the movement.

FICTION AND NON FICTION THROUGH GENDER: 1,500 TITLES AND COUNTING

The movement began with 200 books compiled by the members of the group, all from different areas of life, but who share a common love: reading. Regardless of the books we had, which we had finished reading, we decided to donate to this library, says Abhishek. After the first library was a success among the locals, the group approached a wider audience through social networks, inviting them to donate old books to store more shelves. Since its launch in the first week of December, the group has already collected more than 1,500 books.

The group then plans to establish another library near the Paranjape School in Kothrud, which houses children from disadvantaged backgrounds. “We have compiled dictionaries, encyclopedias, novels and books for children, which we plan to use for this library. Children who cannot afford such books can access them, says Abhishek. The library will include fiction and nonfiction books of various genres, such as history, geography, education, biographies and much more.

The group also received old books that were sold out a long time ago and therefore are priceless. A donor recently donated 540 books that were last printed in the 60s and 70s. “I have been an avid reader all my life and had a large collection of books from different eras. But unfortunately, my children and grandchildren are not very interested in reading. Those books lay in the house. So, when I met this movement through a friend, I decided to donate them so that someone who also likes to read can appreciate them, ”says the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Abhishek and the other members of the group, Naresh Gaykwad, Dushant Moholm Amit Kulkarni, Mahesh Deshmukh, Rohan Shingade, Nishant Dhoot and Puratan Bharati, plan to finally open 100 such libraries in the city.

If you wish to donate books, contact Abhishek Awchar: 9422921192

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