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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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Computing, Libraries, Tennis, India & other interests of Vikas Kamat


Libraries, Knowledge, and Freedom Durable Link to this BLOG
Random Notes on Libraries, Knowledge, and Freedom

I have had a long romance with the libraries. In the rural town of Honavar (map - topics - pictures) in India where I grew up, there was a library ("Ravindra Vachanalaya") in the attic of a temple, where my friend Gopalkrishna Bhat and I had read each and every book by the time we were in the fourth grade! (that was in year 1977. In today's Honavar there is not even one library, although the population has multiplied several times over. What a shame.). The various public libraries in Karnataka were a good place to go and read Cricket analysis, and job opportunities, but they were never awe inspiring.

Libraries are a luxury in India, and my parents have had to build a collection on their own for their research work.

My first culture shock after coming to America was when I entered the Noble Library at the Arizona State University. I'd never seen anything quite like it! It was not just the size of the library and the number of books; it was the quiet surroundings, the incredible collection of maps and periodicals; the lack of red tape; the services (from photocopying, to database searches, to inter-library-loans, to personal computing facilities). I spent a lot of time in the libraries of ASU and UAB, and ignored my studies. ;-- )

Many people point to the Brooklyn Bridge, The Golden Gate Bridge, and (what was) WTC as the symbols of American greatness and might. I must point to the Public Libraries spread all over of America to describe why America is a great nation.

As I immerse myself in the admiration of American Libraries, often I am reminded of Tagore's Where knowledge is free song we used to sing in RSS, that was supposed to be the Song of India.

In the year 2000, at the invitation of the Directorate of Public Libraries, I had an opportunity to address some of the librarians in Bangalore and I realized the conditions under which they have had to operate -- general lack of funds, too much Government interference, lack of patronage from citizens, and general apathy towards libraries in India.

Problems facing Libraries in India -- topic of a future blog.

Tomorrow: Things You Didn't Know About Libraries


• American Library Association
• The Biggest Library of 'em all
• A Site for the Proposed Kamat Library

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, January 24, 2002
Last Modified: 1/23/2003
Tags: library

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