The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library– Albert Einstein
I was extremely delighted to visit the renowned Annamayya Library in Guntur, which houses a vast collection of about two lakh books in Telugu and English, including some rare ones, on wide-ranging subjects.
I was amazed to know how the library started with Sri Lanka Suryanarayana Garu, a retired government employee who had preserved all the books he had read, deciding to donate all his books to the temple in Guntur. Noticing the impressive collection, an official from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam decided to establish a full-fledged library within the temple premises. What started as a humble effort nearly ten years ago turned into a humongous library that has since benefited innumerable people from the district and beyond.
This library is also a treasure trove for research scholars seeking information on specific topics. I was glad to know that many such scholars have been utilising the library's services through phone and email because of the proactive initiatives of the library. I am told that they receive queries from abroad as well. This reflects how the library has grown in strength and stature over the years. The measures on the part of the management of the library for its growth and development are commendable indeed.
Libraries are great repositories of knowledge that can truly enlighten people's minds. From strengthening our freedom movement and fostering nationalism, they have played a huge role in improving literacy in our cities and villages.
Even in the digital age, libraries can contribute significantly to complementing our children's school education, especially in rural areas. I strongly believe that every village must have a library and must receive enthusiastic patronage from the people.
Indeed, there is a dire need today to revitalise the existing libraries in our towns and villages, taking inspiration from the library movements of the past. To truly make our libraries vibrant places of learning, we need a 'Jan Andolan' on the lines of Swachh Bharat, tree plantation programmes and other initiatives. Libraries must also be digitised to keep up with the internet age and be made remotely accessible to people. The Annamayya Library has shown the way here, and other public libraries can take inspiration from their initiatives.
While these institutional measures can ensure that the infrastructure is in place, libraries can really thrive only when we can cultivate the habit of reading among people. When waning attention spans, books can be the most effective tools to ingrain qualities of discipline and perseverance in children. Books can also unlock the imagination of children like no other modern media. Parents must take an active interest in their children's books and inculcate a healthy reading habit in them from an early age.
With consistent efforts such as those of Annamayya Library and patrons who can keep this library movement alive, we can certainly revive the culture of reading in people.
My compliments to Sri Lanka Suryanarayana garu for his untiring efforts and my commendations to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam for their invaluable contribution.
My best wishes for the library. I earnestly hope that it grows further with time and that more people will avail its benefits.