Fiction, general knowledge, science and technology, and biographies were the most popular book genres issued by the Delhi Public Library in 2018, an RTI filed by The Sunday Express has revealed.
The RTI response also suggested that of the 17 genres issued for home reading, adults took home more books than children in all categories except for folk tales.
Established in 1951 and now under the administrative control of the Ministry of Culture, the Delhi Public Library started in old Delhi and now boasts a membership of over a lakh. It has 18 branches across the city, including in resettlement colonies, and over 60 mobile service points.
The RTI response also highlighted that the library procured 38,709 books in Hindi, followed by 23,227 in English in 2018. Among vernacular languages, the library procured 264 new Urdu books, and 188 in Punjabi.
The library is supposed to conduct board advisory meetings to decide what reading material to stock up, but as per the RTI, no meeting was held in 2018, in comparison to nine meetings in 2017.
Of the 1,90,117 fiction books, adults took home 1,31,790, while children took home the rest.
Of the over 7 lakh books borrowed from the library in 2018, over 1.3 lakh were on general knowledge, with as many as 1.1 lakh being issued to adults.
Further, 35,156 books on science and 34,129 books on technology were issued to adults. Children preferred borrowing folk tales, with 14,355 books issued last year. Not a single folk tale was issued to an adult.
Biographies were also popular, with 25,074 adults and 14,080 children taking them home in 2018.
Over 30,000 literature books were issued, with adults taking home 23,045. While adults borrowed more books on philosophy (23,223) as compared to religion (20,400), children took home more religious books (9,408) as compared to philosophy (9,132).
Books on the arts lagged behind, with around 1% of the books issued to adults pertaining to fine arts (9,811), and 2% of the children taking home books on linguistics (5,748). A total of 19,692 history books and 25,635 geography books were issued during the year.
Membership to the library is free, and must be renewed every 36 months. Every member who borrows a book has 28 days to return it, following which he or she incurs a late fee. Last year, 551 books were not returned, and the library collected Rs 1,87,870 in fines.
Dr Lokesh Sharma, director of the Delhi Public Library, told The Sunday Express that even though people preferred fiction, general knowledge and science, the library contains a collection of books not found in any other library because every publisher is bound to send them a copy.
“People come to this library for selected books not found anywhere else. Yes, there is also the case of low borrowing rates of history and geography books, but that is because children fail to cultivate an interest in school for the subjects.”