Any book-loving adult can testify that the memory of one’s first library locks itself into every human sense. The smell of ink and book cover, the feel of a gently thumbed page, the sound of voices speaking in hushed animation, the wash of soft lamplight, the taste of … worlds opening. They are all of a piece.
The launch of the Dimapur Public Library, an initiative by a ‘Group of friends’ who recognised the need for such a space in the town, leads us to an issue of concern state wide. Outside of the schools and colleges, there are embarrassingly few libraries in Nagaland.
The Dimapur Public Library was a “collaborative effort of a team from different professional backgrounds” which started off with “zero budget,” and took form through books donated by well wishers.
While according to official records “rural libraries” abound, there are only a few that actually function or are being used. Besides those in academic institutions, libraries in Nagaland have more or less become dead spaces lost in a stasis of time.
Apart from the ongoing battle between the tangible and the digital realm of books and reading, libraries provide a world of support for the people acting as community meeting place, offering so much more than books to borrow. They are spaces that provide access without ownership and calming alternatives to the barrage of high-tech consumption we experience and engage with today.
In an age, when a whole lot of information is a click away, there is a perception that the function of the library has been usurped by the internet. This is incorrect however, as along with the abundance of information in the digital age there is also a whole lot of misinformation.
This leads to warped views of history and society, which are dangerous precedents that hold back the development of an enlightened social consciousness. And in a society like ours which is at the infancy of its interaction with the digital world, tangible resource points with accessibility for all are essential to overcome ignorance and fight propaganda, lies and half truths.
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