Of Libraries, Among Other Things

Of Love, And Other Libraries

The bell strikes yet again, signaling the end of the third hour of classes. The Acad Block feels like a squeezed-down version of the Wildebeest Migration, with scores chatting resolutely as they clobbered down the Rocks and towards the hostels. It is break time, and a steaming cuppa and a samosa seems to be the obvious choice. But somewhere in this blur of activity, three Wildebeest that are otherwise poles apart in their attitudes, converge at the Library Hall. Friendly smiles are exchanged, and the trio splits up, to explore the grassland. There are others too, tethered to their laptops and mobile phones, nodding away in solitude. But the shelves are still chock-a-block with books and nobody appears to be even so gracious as to relieve them of some of the weight.

Yes, you’re right. We are a sordid bunch of self-proclaimed tech aficionados who take it upon ourselves to, for some strange reason, keep as far away from the bookshelves as possible. Coming to think of it, when was the last time we entered the Library, our arms free of any digital contraption that could keep us occupied for an hour? Well seriously, some introspection is needed. BPHC boasts a collection of books that could well stay on a literary connoisseur’s bucket-list, yet going never-read. The Library houses stacks of novels that are pre-ordered, and served to us before the rest of the country gets a chance to steal a sneak-peek at their blurbs. (Yes, and take note of the fact that we can exercise full privileges of being a part of this college, by requesting books on our to-read lists, and behold the joy of finding them appear in the new-arrivals catalogue.) We are speaking of one of the largest libraries in Asia – that exists within the bounds of a college campus – a library that would be the show-stealer elsewhere, but is neglected, quite unfortunately, by a good proportion of us, BITSians.

Harper Lee and Salinger gather dust as they wait on the sidelines, inviting people around to pick them up, if only for a day, and indulge themselves in a world where imagination runs free and the Queen’s English reigns supreme. Wodehouse’s entire collection stands desolate, and hours of laughter packed within fizzle out in the noise of fingers tapping on keys. Even Chetan Bhagat gets poor audience. But wait, this article is not just a rant; it is an invitation – and invitation to all around, to look beyond their soiled, dog-eared textbooks. More importantly, it is an appeal to the students of one of the most prestigious colleges of the country, to try and explore the realm of literary fiction, and get amazed by the sheer diversity of what lies within the wooden racks. True, the WiFi works great in the hall, and nothing can beat the of reclining in a plush, cushiony sofa, fanned by air-conditioned winds. But is that all? Is the library simply a free hour hangout? Or must one frequent the place for the sole reason that the exams demand it?  – Certainly not.

Maybe at the end of our four/five years on campus, we can take back the simple gratification of having nestled in the comfort of being surrounded by literary works beyond compare, and take heart in the fact that we have spent quality time acquainting ourselves with worlds that we might never step into in real life. They say that books are our closest friends. They couldn’t have been more right.

Let’s begin building the relationship – take that sharp right into the G Block.

Arvind Rameshwar


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