Published: 27th April 2021
This 22-year-old from West Bengal is turning an entire village into a library. Here's how
Soumyadipta Bose has set up a few shelves of books at various houses spread across the Barberia hamlet
We've heard of street libraries, online lending libraries and even libraries on wheels but Soumyadipta Bose from West Bengal's Diamond Harbour is trying to turn an entire village into a library. Sounds insane, right? But Soumyadipta has a plan.
A student of MA in Social Work at the Visva-Bharati University, 22-year-old Soumyadipta has started setting up a few shelves of books at various houses across the Barberia hamlet near Diamond Harbour. A resident of the neighbouring village of Beria, Soumyadipta felt that the nearest library was quite a walk away and that's what deterred people from going there and borrowing books. "Children are losing the habit of reading. I wanted to bring that back. And if the library is next door, then it becomes more accessible to you and feels less intimidating," said the young social worker. Called Bodhpeeth, the library is spread across a village and is set up by the NGO that he runs called Alokdhara.
Soumyadipta said that the people of the village were very excited to give a little space in their home for a few shelves of books for the library. "I started off by collecting books for children. Some donations also included a lot of books on science. So I segregated them. At one household, I set up a rack of children's books — mostly fiction — while the second rack was placed at the local tuition centre. It would provide easy access for the kids who go there to study," said Soumyadipta, adding that he set up the entire project with the help of his father.
The idea was to make the books accessible and easily available. "The books are there with the neighbours, so the kids can just drop by and pick up the books when they want. I kept the Science books outside the tuition centre because the students will be able to check them out when they go for their classes. there is no fixed timing but we generally discuss the books once a week," he said and added that not only are the kids from the village being helped, children from nearby hamlets too are using the library.
But this is not all. Once every week, Soumyadipta organises an interactive session. "The kids either paint or discuss what they've learnt from the books they've borrowed. And there has been a tremendous response. Not only the kids, the elderly population now wants me to get religious texts from Kolkata," smiled Soumyadipta as he added that even though he has been running the library mostly with donated books till now, he is planning to go to Kolkata to get more books. "I am waiting for the carpenters to finish making the shelves. I have already spoken to a few other families who are excited to host a part of this library," he said.