Saturday, November 12, 2016

Reviving a library, one book at a time!

‘Adopt a book’ is a campaign to revive the lost charm of the Madras Literary Society, one of the oldest libraries in the city.

Chennai: The Madras Literary Society in the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) campus has an old-world charm to it. Walk into the premises and it’s as if you are transported back in time. While the British era architecture of the building constantly reminds of the era gone by, the interiors are a bookworm’s paradise. 

Thousands of books are stacked from the floor to the ceiling on metallic shelves with old-school staircases connecting the three storeys of books. The library also has a pulley, to transport books to various floors. According to the librarian, Uma Maheshwari, the premises has some rare books including Aris totle (four volumes) in Greek and Latin and Travels in India (1680) by Jean-Baptiste Tavernie. 

Unfortunately, the treasure trove of information is in dire need of attention as the books are in poor condition. In order to restore the charm of one of the oldest libraries in the city, Thirupurasundari Sevvel and Rajith Nair have started a campaign called ‘Adopt a book’. 

“The society was founded in 1812 as the Madras Literary Society. In 1830, it became an auxiliary of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Documents show that Subhas Chandra Bose and Annie Besant have been regular here,” says Thirupurasundari. “Most of the books are covered in dust and some of the rarest book are in extremely poor condition. 

Through this campaign, we are asking individuals and groups to donate money to restore the books. After it’s re-stored, the inside of the book will have the adopter’s name. We have already managed to re-store quite a few books,” explains Thirupurasundari. 

There are three kinds of books. Ones that are in really bad condition and require immediate attention, the second section of books that are slightly better and the third that just require binding. “The binding of books will only cost Rs 200 but the chemical treatment and digitisation (scanning) of books can cost Rs 3,000 and more,” she says. 

They are also looking at volunteers who would participate in regular clean-ups. “Every month, we organise a walk or a clean-up campaign.

 Any group that would be interested 

and help us restore the library, 

can call 9840495717.



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