Source : The Hindu
Home delivery service catching on among readers
Struggling with dwindling revenues and lesser subscriptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries in the city are forced to innovate to serve the public safely.
Earlier in March, the pandemic forced libraries to close during the lockdown. With curtailed opening hours – some still not opened to public yet – the most significant impact of this has been the loss of a community centre for people who rely on libraries for training for competitive examinations and interactive social programmes. Despite everything gloomy about it, the pandemic has presented a crisis-driven opportunity for libraries to push their online capabilities farther than ever before.
BookMagic Library is now curating customised reading lists (according to age groups) and offering home delivery within a 15 kilometre radius in the city. It is open from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. currently. However, the walk-ins are nothing compared to pre-pandemic times, says Hari Madala of the library. “It is the voracious readers who are coming in periodically now,” he adds. More than the walk-ins at the library, Hari says, the home delivery orders that he sends out every Sunday have picked up really well. “We are doing 40 deliveries every Sunday now as against four or five in April when we started off. We have also seen an additional 50 members signing up during the pandemic months,” he adds. The library has a digital catalogue of 8,000 books. In order to encourage more readers, Hari has created a reading challenge for his members. Every book is kept under a week’s quarantine once it is returned and is up in the digital catalogue after that.
The Visakhapatnam Public Library may not have opened its doors to the public yet, but it has been utilising the time for “book processing”. “We are in the process of creating an online database of our 55,000 books – some rare collections – and numbering them. The objective is to minimise manual work,” says D.S. Varma, secretary of the library. Reviewing of books, removing and revisiting of unused books are some of the measures being undertaken. The second floor of the library that is currently under renovation is almost completed. Once ready, this will have a capacity to hold 30,000 additional inventory of books. “Installation of door access systems is also under way,” adds Varma.
The pandemic has also forced some of the smaller libraries like BookMark to shelve some of their plans lined up for the year. “We had planned to launch a mobile library in March this year that would have catered for the readers in the localities like Yendada, which currently lack a reading space. However, now we had to hold back that plan,” says Rashmie Soni of the library which is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on week days now. It is currently offering home delivery service for the differently-abled members.