Published on October 26th, 20120
An astonishing children’s library at Churchgate
The Vohu Mano library has a lifetime membership of Rs 350 only, plus children can read rare titles as well.
by The Diarist | firstname.lastname@example.org
Inside the Theosophy Hall just opposite the American Centre at New Marine Lines, there is a lovely little children’s library that houses every sort of book, comic and encyclopaedia that a child could possibly desire. Books such as the Trixie Belden series, now not available in most bookstores, back issues of The National Geographic, a towering collection of Amar Chitra Katha comics and a host of beloved children’s authors are neatly displayed on its shelves.
The fourth floor library has a lifetime membership fee of only Rs 350. “It is actually a refundable deposit, and there are no other charges,” says a ‘student’ who manages the centre (all Theosophy followers in the building prefer not to use their names and call themselves ‘students’.) She adds, “The deposit is refundable only after six months, however. The idea behind such a small deposit is that even those chidren who cannot afford to purchase books can have access to good reading material at our library.”
Vohu Mano is ancient Persian for ‘The superior mind’. The student says, “People who come here for the first time are surprised at our vast collection of books, apart from the low lifetime fees. After the library started in 1962, its fees were Rs 5 for the longest time. However, we have had to progressively increase the deposit amount to meet our operational costs.” The library does not purchase any books but relies solely on donations from the public or the United Lodge of Theosophists. “It is lovely to see children as young as 10 years of age come with several books and leave them with us,” the student says. “So many children come with even 15 books sometimes, and some of the books are in mint condition.” The library also accepts monetary contributions for the upkeep of the library.
Interestingly, though the library insists on membership up to 18 years of age, several parents and older collegians also drop by to borrow books. “Since there are several offices in the area, it is the parents that come to borrow books for their children. But they also find books interesting to them, such as our encyclopaedias. College students, especially borrow our educational material for their project work,” she says.
The library now boasts of a 1,000+ membership. “There are 15 to 20 visitors every day,” she says. “It helps that we have a nice reading room where children can select a book and read without interruption.”
About the library:
– There is a refundable Rs 500 deposit to be paid if you want to borrow reference material.
– Children can borrow one old book and one new book at a time. Alternatively, they can borrow two magazines, or one book and one magazine.
– The library began in 1962 with over 1,000 books in English and over 100 books in Gujarati, Urdu, Hindi and Marathi.
(Picture courtesy www.childrensbooksandmusic.com)
The Diarist is always on the lookout for interesting book-related nooks. If you know of a good reading room or unexplored library, do write in to email@example.com and the diarist will feature the place.