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Open-air library in Gulbarga completes decennial this month

Special Correspondent



Tranquil:The library has been functioning for a decade at the Mehboob Gulshan Public Garden

GULBARGA: An innovative open-air library concept introduced by a journalist in Gulbarga to encourage reading will complete 10 years this month.

Ten years ago, on November 26, Subash Banagar, a journalist working with the Kannada daily Samyukta Karnataka started the initiative in a small way at the Gol Bungalow at the Mehboob Gulshan Public Garden, a popular spot for those working out or performing yoga in the mornings. It had only a handful of Kannada and English newspapers then.

The movement has grown over the years with a steady stream of visitors in the morning. Mr. Banagar's spirit has ensured that the library has functioned without government help all these years. “I should thank my colleagues, philanthropists and organisations like Dr. P.S. Shankar Prathishtan that helped me,” he said.

Even though Mr. Banagar hails from a lower-middle-class family and had very little money to spare from his paltry salary for an indulgence like running a public library, he kept going. His enthusiasm and enterprising nature has popularised the concept in nearby regions too.

Mr. Banagar started the open-air library with the hope of spreading knowledge of English language, particularly amongst youngsters. Many of them did not know English then, which cost them heavily in job interviews.

He feels triumphant that several of those youngsters who visited the library regularly have today passed competitive examinations for different posts. Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Banagar said that almost all the Kannada dailies published from Gulbarga city and English dailies were available at the library. All magazines, particularly those that helped students prepare for competitive examinations, were available.

The open-air library in Gulbarga has inspired similar ventures in Raichur and Koppal districts.

At least 15 more such libraries have been opened in Gulbarga district in different places.

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