The campus library – a chronicler of remarkable experiencesMany of us have had the privilege of having a library in our academic life at school, college and university with rows of cupboards packed with subject-wise books, and slanting shelves with magazines and journals. Then there were the tomes of hard-bound Encyclopedias, requiring both hands to heave one off the shelf! A separate reading area had sturdy wooden tables and difficult-to-slouch-in chairs. Some institutes had simple libraries, just a room with a couple of book-cupboards and magazines and newspapers on a side table.
In the school library, we visited only during the reading period and to borrow a book to take home. This evolved into serious studying in the library at the college and university level, often requiring intense reference work, jotting down notes related to the course-subject.
Then there was the librarian, often a be-spectacled lady, who not only knew exactly where a particular book could be located without referring to the catalogue but also had the most amazing auditory acumen. How on earth could she hear the faintest of giggles emanating from behind a book at a table a furlong away from her desk?! A stern gesture to the bold letters on the board that practically shouted 'SILENCE PLEASE', and the giggles would be swallowed asap.
Today the library has expanded not just into a physically larger space, but in other ways, too. There is a 'Library Day' added to the academic calendar where authors are invited to read sections from their book or students review a particular book and get a participation certificate for it. Such sessions are not necessarily even confined to the library premises, but may be organized in the indoor basketball court or outdoors in the school compound, due to their convenient semi-circular seating arrangements. In fact, the library is no longer even called that; it has got the lofty name of Resource Centre because it is now not merely providing information through printed materials but also has multi-media sources, including computers with sophisticated software, film CDs and audiotapes, and even a photo-copying machine. A librarian is no longer a single person with a few staff. There is the post of Head Librarian with one or more Assistant Librarians. What's more, no longer is the female gender more inclined to take up these roles.
The modern touch is all very well, but it is sincerely hoped that in this digital era the library does not become a white elephant, confined to a neglected corner of the campus. It should continue to be one of those charming, buzzing hubs on campus that creates a long-lasting impression - and not only in terms of academic support - so much so that, when you head back as alumni one day, the chronicle of the library experiences that are etched in the mind get extracted with nostalgic love and affection to reminisce over.
[This writeup is the launchpad for the Forum thread challenge contest. Image is self-taken of a college library.]