| Random Notes on Libraries, Knowledge, and Freedom|
I have had a long romance with the libraries. In the rural town of Honavar
(map - topics -
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