By: Prapanna Lahiri
A library can be called a store–house of knowledge. In dictionaries the word “library” has been defined as “a building or room containing a collection of books”. A library plays a very important role in promoting the progress of knowledge. Many people love reading but not all can afford to buy books which are priced very high.
Normally, a library has two sections, a lending section and a reference section. Someone, becoming a member of a library, can borrow, from the lending section, valuable books and sometimes even more than two books at a time for a stipulated period. Non-members too can use the reference section sitting down at the reading room and study.
One may ponder about the relevance of libraries in today’s digital world where loads of information is available from the Internet with just a click of the mouse. But it is worthwhile to appreciate that a person visits a library not only to find information from books but also to sit and study there. The peaceful and scholarly ambience of a library helps the reader to concentrate better on a subject matter of study. Thus, libraries will never be irrelevant in a well-read and educated society. Moreover, in this digital age libraries have transformed being technologically equipped with computers giving access to information stored in digital format like DVDs and e-books. Thus public libraries, in a way, have become critical technology hubs for communities, ensuring that all people are able to benefit from the advancing changes. But more than just books and computers, libraries are still places where individuals gather to explore, interact and imagine. The usefulness of a library can be summarised as given below:
Libraries support literacy of the underprivileged:
A public library could well be a place for the literacy development of the children of the underprivileged parents. Libraries as institutions often support literacy events.
Libraries add value to neighbourhoods as a gathering place:
While choosing a residence, many citizens would often perceive library access as part of an enhanced quality of life. Libraries could be a unique forum for social networking giving people a “living room” experience by way of holding meetings, conferences in a friendly environment.
Library services allow for personal and professional development:
Unlike their more affluent counterparts, many lower income individuals and families do not have the option of purchasing books, subscribing to periodicals and conducting research online. Community libraries come in handy for such citizenry.
Public libraries are fountainhead of information for various categories of people in the society:
A library is the place for looking up information directly related to work of paid employees, students pursuing serious projects and retired people trying to keep in touch with goings on around them.
The library is a safe, important and central public space:
A central or community library attracts people of all ages, linguistic groups and educated clientele. All its users, women, children, and men alike, are attached to it as a safe and appropriate destination in a stressful world.
In conclusion, it may be pointed out that the history of libraries go as beyond as the Indus Valley Civilization. Its been since time immemorial that libraries have been treated as store house of knowledge.