Knowledge Keepers

Preserving and providing information,librarians in the city give the insider’s look at what their work entails and how it has changed

Written by Joyce William John | Published: August 26, 2013 12:55 am

Around 8.30 am,while late risers are yet greeting the new day and children are dashing to their schools,Jayashree Bagaitkar reaches the Bharat Itihaas Sanshodan Mandal. She makes her way through the century-old building to the library that houses more than 31,000 books on history and takes her seat,ready to share information with anyone who walks in.

The rows of shelves with their stack of books,the old furniture,the silence and even the smell of weather-worn tomes have been this librarian’s friends for about 25 years. “This place has become a habit for me. I miss it on holidays,” says Bagaitkar. Calm,soft-spoken and straight forward,the 60-year-old fits the conventional image of a librarian. But she dismisses the presumption that her job is boring. “This is the house of knowledge,how can it ever be boring? I serve people by helping them in their pursuit of knowledge,” she says. Making her work sound like a treasure hunt,Bagaitkar says that information seekers – many of whom are into research – come to her with vague clues and it is her responsibility to give them the exact book. “The joy of finding a book that one has been looking for long is inexpressible,” she says.

For Trupti More,librarian at Deccan College library that spreads across 45,000 square feet and two floors,finding the right book from among approximately two lakh under her care is like the success of an operation. “I take it up as a challenge. I remember,when I had just joined here as a junior assistant librarian 17 years ago,one person had come looking for a certain book. He had gone around many places before coming to us. When I eventually found what he was looking for,he gave me the title of a Dr,though I was the junior most in the team,” she says.

Currently in the process of automation – computerised cataloguing and issuing of books,More has seen the development of information technology percolate into her job. “When I joined,everything was done manually. But now we are even in the process of opening a digital library for some of our oldest books,dating back to 1519,” says More. She adds that as the need for information has grown,the ways to provide it have changed. “Librarians across the world are now being called information officers,” she shares.

Unlike Bagaitkar and More,Marathe Meenanath Laxman,librarian at the Popular Bookstore and Library on Fergusson College Road,does not have thousands of books under his care. But,Laxman too sees his job as a service to people. “Over the years I have understood what our different members like. So when I see them coming,I often already pick out what they would pick,” he says. Though he also laments the decline of readers over the 12 years that he has been a librarian,Laxman joins Bagaitkar and More in saying that he would never trade his job for anything else.

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