Perumkulam in Kulakkada panchayat in Kollam district has been officially named as Kerala’s first ‘Village of Books’, and for good reason. With the help of the Bappuji Smaraka Vayanashala (Bappuji Memorial Library), box-like bookshelves were set up across the districts so that locals could read books for free, and return them back or replace it with another book.
So, how did this all begin?
When Mahatma Gandhi was murdered in the year 1948, young minds hailing from the district of Perumkulam wanted to mourn his death by giving back to society. Among them was a guy named Koozhaikaatuveetil Krishna Pillai who, along with a few others, went on a book-collection drive and collected close to 100 books. They set up a room, owned by Krishna Pillai, with these books so that people could read. That’s how Bappuji Smaraka Vayanashala came into existence.
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Around three years ago, the people who ran Bappuji Smaraka Vayanashala wanted to turn Perumkulam into the ‘village of books’ by setting up ten boxes in which books would be placed, at important junctions in the village. You will find around 50 books placed in each box. Since the Bappuji Smaraka Vayanashala is affiliated with the Kerala State Library Council, they get funding to supply books and build boxes to keep the books. Writer M T Vasudevan Nair, a patron of the library, took to social media to declare that Perumkulam had become Kerala’s first ‘Village of Books’.
The whole initiative stemmed from the idea to build a strong community of readers, exchanging knowledge, one book at a time. According to The News Minute, Vijesh, the former secretary of the Bappuji Smaraka Vayanashala, said, “Give a book and take a book, that’s the idea. The boxes were inspired by an international initiative called Little Free Library which works with the idea that books should be available to read at every place.” While the scare of COVID-19 has loomed all over the place, the committee members have ensured that safe practices are followed, including placing sanitizers for those taking and keeping books.
But, this is not the first time this initiative has taken place in India. Back in 2017, the Maharashtra Government had recognized Bhilar as the village of books, the first of its kind in India. It was an initiative by the Government and inspired by Hay-on-Wye, a Welsh town known for its book and literature festivals.
This initiative is a great way to inculcate the habit of reading among people across age groups. Let this serve as an example!
Feature Image Courtesy: The Hindu