Shopian: Established in 1972 as a tehsil library, the district library in Shopian is yet to have its own building. In the past one decade, it has moved in and out of five rented accommodations.
According to officials, a minuscule number of people avail the services of the library, as it continues to change locations along with more than 17,000 books in its catalogue.
An official posted in the library told Kashmir Reader that very few people visit it because very few people know where it is.
“It takes us a year to sort out the books and keep them in particular spots, and when the owner forces us to vacate, it takes us another year to do the same work,” he said, adding that during his three years of service, the library changed two locations.
Arshid Aziz, who is the head of the district “reading club”, said almost all the necessary books are available in the library, but in absence of a fixed location, people do not form the habit of visiting it.
“Besides, registration of members is a complicated work. People are being asked to get a gazetted officer’s attested form for the registration, but most of such officials don’t attest the forms out of fear that students or other people won’t return the books,” Aziz said, adding that registration should be given on self-attested forms.
The library official said that among the 17,000 books available in the library are books for competitive exams and world literature. Amish Ahmed, the official in charge of the library, said, “We have only 1,500 annual members and hardly 70 books are being taken by people in a month. This, in a district having 3.5 lakh population.”
He said that umpteen times he has written to the deputy commissioner and higher authorities for the approval of a building for the library, so that people can come and get better services at one place. “This would be the lone library in the world which has no electricity,” he remarked, adding that digitalisation of the library has already taken place.
“In winter, the lack of heating arrangements in the library further keeps away readers,” Ahmed said.
The surroundings of the rented accommodation the library is currently housed in are occupied with cement, tin and steel shops.
Deputy Commissioner Shopian, Choudhary Muhammad Yasin, didn’t respond to phone calls and text messages from this reporter seeking his comments on the matter.