India Education
Running a library solely for villagers
May 9, 2007 - 9:12:28 AM

Bhubaneswar, May 9 - His passion for books and urge to spread knowledge among villagers led Pradipta Mohanty to start his own library where people could read and borrow books free of charge.

In fact, his quest for knowledge was such that Mohanty, 29, did not even apply for a conventional job after completing his post graduation. His only mission was to open a library. His humble efforts have now translated into a knowledge centre for many.

Mohanty runs his library and museum, named after Mahatma Gandhi and Oriya social reformer Utkalmani Gopabandhu, respectively in Barandua village, around 170 km from here. He has a similar library at his rented house in Balasore.

'Human life is precious but people in villages are ignorant and illiterate. Through my library I want to help the villagers gain knowledge and develop their mental faculties,' Mohanty told IANS.

The library was first set with just 50 books. But this collection has gradually increased over the years to some 20,000 books and periodicals.

'I started collecting books since 1995. But in the 1999 cyclone many were damaged. My mission resumed in 2001. As I don't have much money, the books are not kept in proper cupboards,' says Mohanty, who earns only around Rs.1,000 a month by contributing articles to some vernacular dailies.

'I have often spent nights without food so that I can buy books with that money,' he claims.

His house is full of books, leaving little space even on the bed.

Mohanty's library includes books in Oriya, English, Hindi and Bengali. The genres vary from fiction, poetry and biographies to magazines and periodicals. Works of eminent authors like Fakir Mohan Senapati, Radhanath Ray, Gangadhar Meher and Laxmikanta Mohapatra are part of the Oriya collection.

His library has no fixed timings. If Mohanty is at home between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., it means his library too is open to all. People can read in the library or take a book home.

Villagers are all praise for Mohanty.

'We get all kinds of books here. Many of them are either not available outside or we cannot afford them. The best thing about this library is that we don't have to pay anything to read books,' says Dayanidhi Samal, a villager.

Apart from managing the library, Pradipta writes poems and articles. He also has a collection of postage stamps and coins of different countries, photographs of eminent writers, social workers, rare musical instruments, audiocassettes and old newspapers.

'We find many things about which we've only heard of before. For instance here we see foreign currencies, something we never thought we would be able to see in this small village,' said Mrutyunjay Nayak, another villager.

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