Published: 11th January 2021
Every weekend, these 25-year-olds load their car's boot with books and visit cafes in Nagpur to spread the joy of reading
Former Electronic Engineering students of Shri Ramdeobaba College of Engineering and Management and currently working in different IT firms, two youngsters started Library on Wheels. Read their story
So what if you can't go to the library in these times of the pandemic, the library can come to you, or at least to your nearest café. This is the thought that drives the Library on Wheels founded by friends Likhit Agrawal and Alisha Nathani in Nagpur. The idea is to drive to nearby cafés on weekends with books in the car's boot and park it in the parking lot. Stationed there, they are bound to catch the attention of passersby, thus, spreading the joy of reading.
It was while conversing with a friend that Alisha (25) came up with this idea and being a voracious reader herself, latched on to it immediately. After two months of discussing it with her friend Likhit (25) who studied in the same class in college, they decided to execute it on December 5, 2020. Their first stop? The Next Chapter Cafe, which itself houses many books. "It is not easy to park anywhere in the city because we will need prior permissions hence, we decided to partner with cafés," says Likhit.
Now when it comes to their policy. Anyone can borrow from the 250 books they carry in their trunk and present it on a foldable table on which they display the books. They have a mixed bag of books, from the Harry Potter series, Sidney Sheldon books to biographies, political and historical books. Upon borrowing a book, you will be asked to pay a deposit which is more or less equivalent to the cost of the book, prices start at Rs 50. This is so that if the book is not returned, they are easily able to replace it. But if you do return it, you get the whole amount back. So basically, you can borrow it for free!
All set | (Pic: Library on Wheels)
While Alisha informs that people of all age groups visit them, Likhit says, "The last time people heard the word 'library' was back in school. On the first day, we heard reactions like 'Does a library still exist nowadays?'. So that is why people are really liking the concept.” Fiction and self-help are the books in most demand, they inform us. This is not all. They are starting mini initiatives like Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover. They covered some of their books and only wrote a brief description and the genre on the cover. "We wanted to convey the message that while picking books, people should not choose them on the basis of the authors or the cover," explains Alisha. What an idea, madamji!
What's making them most happy and keeping them going is the response they receive. Alisha nostalgically narrates how a family stopped by their car once and the father commented on how children don't get time from phones to read books. And still, he picked out a book for his daughter. "The fact that the first-ever book that she would ever read comes from our library gives me so much hope," Alisha says with a smile.
For more on them, check out facebook.com/Library-On-Wheels-102959141699865