THE Walking LIBRARY
Outlook Traveller|July 2021
In the hilly Mothakkara village of Kerala’s Wayanad district, a 63-year-old woman walks several kilometers every day for those who love to read but have no easy access to books
RADHAMANI K.P

FOR AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER, reading has been one of my greatest joys. The way authors build a world through their writing and manage to capture a reader’s imagination never fails to amaze me. I believe that reading stays in our minds far longer than what we see.

When I was a child, I would read all kinds of stories to my father, who loved listening to them. He did not get much of an education and therefore, couldn’t read. I took it upon myself to read entire books to him and give him updates about events around the world by reading the news. I would write letters to our relatives and friends on my father’s behalf, and then read them out loud so that he could check what I had written. That was perhaps how my love for reading began, and it grew with age.

It was the same love that made me choose the job of a ‘walking librarian’ at Pratibha Public Library — an offshoot of Library Movement in Kerala. The library was built in 1961 in my village Mothakkara, in the Mananthavady taluk of Kerala’s Wayanad district. This region is home to beautiful rivers, small waterfalls, farms and a wide diversity of birds and plants, and is surrounded by lush green mountains.

Although the library has been around for almost 60 years, people in the village — women in particular — had no easy access to books until a few years ago. Despite their love for reading, their tight schedules, busy farming lives, and the distance and time to commute to the library made it difficult for them to visit regularly to borrow books.

SINCE 2012, WHEN I STARTED WORKING at Pratibha Library, I have been delivering books to the homes of the library members six days a week. I give them two new books each time, collect them after eight days, and keep a record in the library register. I work based on the guidelines that the library council provides for book distribution and delivery.

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