When social media has often been blamed for ruining the personal touch with books, the same platform has helped hundreds of people to rebuild the entire library, which was attacked and destroyed in March damaging 5,000 books. The AKG Memorial Library at Thalookkara, a village in Malappuram district, was set to fire allegedly by workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on 23rd March 2016. As this news went viral on social media platforms, many came forward offering substantial number of books from their personal collections via a Facebook group titled ‘Book collection’, thus creating the idea of a ‘Pusthakavandi.’ The library was inaugurated in 1980 under the guidance of the AKG Memorial Kalavedhi, one of the cultural centers of Thalookkara. “We formed volunteer groups in each district to coordinate the collection activities. One vehicle started from Thiruvananthapuram and collected books from the southern districts while a few others started from Kasaragod. Political leaders Thomas Isaac and M.A. Baby, writer Subhash Chandran, film-makers Aashiq Abu and Amal Neerad, are among those who contributed books,” says Julius Mirshad, an IT professional who is part of a ‘Pusthakavandi.’ “In the early days, we built the library by going around houses and collecting books donated by individuals. Later, we started getting grants from the government too. We had a good collection of books, including rare manuscripts. It was more than just a library. We had musical instruments and many used to come here and play them. Annually, we have been organizing close to 15 events for children and adults. The people of the locality have already collected more than 3,000 books for us. With the Pusthakavandi, we will now have more than 10,000 books,” says K.T. Musthafa, the library secretary. The group received books from JNU, Hyderabad University and Delhi University and from the U.S., the U.K. and the Middle East. While many others directly sent books to the library through online book stores, few others deposited money in the library’s bank account to buy books.
Library resurrected via social media