Most affected are competitive exam aspirants
Mysore/Mysuru: As we emerge from the lockdown, the economic hiatus due to the pandemic has begun to show its results.
The printing and publication industry had to go into a forced shut down as the COVID-19 pandemic had people shunning from buying hard copies of newspapers, books, magazines and journals. First hit by the digital boom of e-books and now due to the pandemic, reading and lending libraries in city have been struggling for survival. Yet they have not opened their doors to the public.
As a result, the books neatly arranged in the racks are gathering dust. Despite several unlock measures that have been taken up by both the State and Central Governments, the libraries still remain shut forcing people to read up whatever available at their homes or in World-Wide-Web or what we call the internet.
Hit hard by lack of availability of books is the young crowd who have to prepare for competitive exams. There are over 7,239 libraries under the Department of Libraries and they are awaiting an official order from the Government. While the doors are shut for visitors, only the library employees are permitted inside to carry out their routine works. Libraries are closed since Mar. 22.
Readership subscriptions have definitely been affected as most people have refrained from buying copies in the last four to five months. “It is worse even now as we cannot access the books via libraries as they are closed. It is very difficult to get information outside the realm of libraries for competitive exams,” said Suchitra, who is preparing for administrative service exams.
“Not all information available in the internet is authentic and we cannot depend on them. Books and journals give us the right information and sadly, all of them have been locked up inside the libraries,” she rued.
There are many competitive exams lined up in the coming months like IAS, KAS, Panchayat Development Officers and teachers’ recruitment. Candidates preparing for these exams are severely disadvantaged as the libraries are closed. In Mysuru, there are over 278 libraries that come under the Department and readers feel that the libraries must open after following strict social distancing norms.
“The COVID-19 impact is affecting and will affect book and library industry. Books are never treated as essential items, which they should be, during the lockdown to engage people while they are at home. Now that the Government has relaxed rules and allowed metros and trains to operate, it must allow the libraries to open too,” said Nitish, a regular visitor to libraries, who is stuck at home now.
There are over 57,030 members in City Central Library and it has 18 branch libraries, 13 Seva Kendra libraries, and over 7 reading rooms. In the Mysuru District Library, there are 71,256 members in over 252 libraries.