Debating India

ORISSA

Villager runs a free library

Friday 1 July 2005

Set up in a room with as few as 50 books, it now houses over 30,000 books

`Loknath’ library started in 1990 Collection includes books in Oriya, English, Hindi, Bengali and Telugu Also houses stamps, coin collections

MADANAPUR (ORISSA): A book lover in Madanapur village of Balasore district in Orissa shares his passion for knowledge and is taking on the fight against ignorance by running a free library of over 30,000 books at his home. In his quest for knowledge, Bikash Satpathy started `Loknath’ library in 1990. The library was first set up in a room at his father’s residence with as few as 50 books, but this collection has gradually increased over the years to some 30,000 books of different genres, ranging from 300-year-old, palm leaf manuscripts to biographies of famous people.

"Human life is very precious but people in villages are ignorant and illiterate and so through my library I want to help these villagers gain knowledge and develop their mental faculties,’’ claims Bikash. The collection includes books in Oriya, English, Hindi, Bengali and Telugu and genre such as fiction, poetry, biography, reference, magazines and periodicals. The library, which is open to all, free of cost, is a ``house of knowledge’’ for many of the villagers. ``We get all kinds of books here which are either not available outside or which we cannot afford. The best thing about this library is that we don’t have to pay anything to read the books,’’ said Gopal Behera, a villager. Works of eminent authors like Fakir Mohan, Senapati, Gangadhar Meher and Laxmikanta Mohapatra are part of the Oriya collection.

Besides, many books that the library houses, there are stamps, foreign currency and coins on display for curious visitors. ``We can call this library a museum because we find a lot of things which we’ve only heard of before for instance here we have foreign currencies which we never thought we would be able to see in this small village,’’ said Jasabanta Jena, another villager.

The English collection of over 1500 includes the works Leo Tolstoy, Rabindranath Tagore, the autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru. — ANI

See online : The Hindu

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