A musty 8x 10 room in EWS Colony (Economically Weaker Section) is an unlikely place for a library. But this library,set up by the Textile Mazdoor Union in Ludhiana about three months ago,is already a hit with the colonys children. The library has issued and re-issued 1,200 books to children of the area ever since it was set up.
While some of the books have been donated by Deshbhagat Yadgaari Society,Jalandhar,the rest have been contributed by the union. A few books have come from anonymous donors.
The library has rows of shelves lined with books written by Premchand,Leo Tolstoy,Mitarsen Meet and Karl Marx. The books are mainly in Hindi and Punjabi. The childrens section has story books,picture books and math puzzle books of the National Book Trust.
Rajwinder Singh,a union member and the brain behind this library,says,Workers are often thought of as being illiterates. Though many of them are illiterate,there are some who have cleared class X and XII. And even if they want to read something,there is no place they can go to. We have about 600 books in our library. We dont have an elaborate seating arrangement,but we will be happy if we manage to get our workers and their children into the habit of reading. The response has been good so far.
Gautam,a casual worker,says,I used to come to this library to read newspapers. Now I also read Lalkar,a magazine for workers.
Visitors to the library sit on the floor and a register maintains a record of the books issued. The colonys children are regular visitors. The children are mainly interested in reading story books with pictures and Tarksheel Society,a rationalists body,has donated us a few books on how we must fight superstitions. The children learn Punjabi in school so they have books in Punjabi and Hindi, says Rajwinder Singh.
Priya,a class I student,is busy solving puzzles in the library. Her parents work in Vardhman Spinning Mills nearby. I want to read English books as well. The library should stock up a few books that help us to learn English, she says. Golu,a class IV student,sits nearby,reading Premchands Ramleela.
We pay Rs 500 per month as rent for this room and we want to shift to a bigger place, says Rajwinder Singh.
Samraram,a union member,says,Instead of fighting with each other over petty matters,it would do us some good if we read and learnt new things.