Published: 23rd April 2021
This librarian in Wayanad walks over 4 km a day to deliver books straight to people's doorsteps
The registration fee to join the library is Rs 25 and the monthly fee is Rs 5 Radhamani feels that by delivering books to people with various reading tastes, she herself is getting hooked to them
KP Radhamani, a 64-year-old woman, works as a librarian at Mothakkara in Kerala's Wayanad district. What makes her unique is that she walks 4 km everyday for home delivery of books. The "Walking Librarian" as she is fondly called lives in Mothakkara, Vellamunda in Wayanad which is dotted with lush green forests and hilly terrain. She delivers books on fiction, history, politics, travel, movies, in a shopping bag.
She works as the librarian at Prathiba Public Library in Mothakkara which boasts of around 11,000 books but after the flow of people to the library decreased owing to their commitments in farm, domestic work and other livelihoods, Radhamani decided that she would take the books to them. She keeps a regular register of the books being delivered and manages according to the guidelines of the Library Council of Kerala.
In a shopping bag, the frail woman with the passion to deliver books, carries 25-50 books and gives two books to a family and takes them back after eight days. The registration fee to join the library is Rs 25 and the monthly fee is Rs 5. Radhamani feels that by delivering books to people with various reading tastes, she herself is getting hooked to these books.
She recalled, "I used to narrate stories to my father when I was a child and used to read anything which I could get my hands on including the paper which was used to cover clothes or provisions and there is no life for me without letters. After getting this job with the library, I became an avid and voracious reader taking books from all sections and increasing my knowledge." Wayanad being a backward district with a huge population of tribals, Radhamani has delivered books at the doorsteps of many tribal homes and kindled the passion for reading among their children and women.
She recollected how the tribal children used to call her after finishing reading the books she had delivered within a few days and waited for her next visit. In the shadow of Covid, the number of books being delivered in a month has come down to around 350 from 500. She has also doubled up as a tourist guide as several tourists flock to the hilly terrain. For being a guide, she has devoured books related to travel, history and society of Wayanad so that she can properly guide the tourists.
Radhamani, who studied only upto the 10th standard, said that some books suggested by her readers have remained imprinted in her mind for life. An example is one of the bestsellers in Malayalam literature, "Aadujeevitham" by noted writer Benyamin. As she said, "The character Najeeb in that book will always be inside me and will always give one determination and high spirits as how he scripted his own return from an alien land from a remote desert in Saudi Arabia."
The books being delivered by Radhamani are of use to several aspirants for civil service examinations. Sajini Damodaran, a housewife in Wayanad who has benefitted from the books being delivered by the "Walking Librarian" said, "I took books which are for competitive examinations and thanks to her, I have written a few public service examinations of the Government of Kerala and am confident of making it." The Walking Librarian who started in this profession in 2012 is now earning Rs 3800 a month, which is a paltry sum given the living indices.