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Walking Librarian of Kerala inculcates reading habit among rural women

Thiruvananthapuram, April 21(BPNS)

KP Radhamani is a 64 year old woman working as a librarian in a local library at Mothakkara in Wayanad and what makes her unique is that she delivers books at the door steps of people- at their homes.

The “walking Librarian” as she is fondly called lives in Mothakkara, Vellamunda in Wayanad district of Kerala which is home to lush green forests and hilly terrains and she is quenching the thirst of those who wants to read books and anything and everything in fiction, history, politics, travel, movie are there in the shopping bag in which she carries the books.

She is the librarian at Prathiba Public Library,  in Mothakkara which boasts of around 11,000 books and after the flow of people to the library reduced owing to their  commitments in farm, domestic work and in other livelihoods, Radhamani decided that she would take the books to them. She keeps a regular registry on the books being delivered and manages according to the guidelines of the library council of Kerala.

In a shopping bag, the frail woman with the passion to deliver, carries 25-50 books in a bag and gives two books to a family and takes it back after eight days. The registration fee to join in the library is Rs 25 and the monthly fee is Rs 5 and Radhamani found that by delivering books to people of various tastes , she herself is getting hooked to these books.

Radhamani reminiscences, “I used to narrate stories to my father when I was a child and used to read anything which I could get my hands on including the paper which was used to cover clothes or provisions and there is no life for me without letters. After getting this job with the library, I became an avid and voracious reader taking books from all sections and improving my knowledge.”

Wayanad being a backward district with a huge population of tribals ,Radhamani has delivered books at the door steps of many tribal homes and kindled the passion for reading among their children and women alike. She reminisces about the tribal children calling her after completing the books she delivered within a few days and waiting for her next turn.

 Covid has reduced the number of books she delivers a month and it has come down from 500 to around 350. She has also doubled up as a tourist guide as several tourists flock to the hilly terrain and for being a guide, she had gulped volumes of books related to travel, history and society of Wayanad so that she could passionately guide people who reach the district.

Quite interestingly, Radhamani who studied only upto tenth standard said ,that some books suggested by her readers had remained in her for life and an example is one of the best sellers in Malayalam literature, “Aadujeevitham” by noted writer, Benyamin and she said ,”The character Najeeb in that book will always be inside me and will always give one determination and high spirit as how he scripted his own return from an alien land after remaining unknown among the goats in a remote desert of Saudi Arabia.”

The books being delivered by Radhamani is of use to several aspirants for public service examinations and  Sajini Damodaran, a house wife in Wayanad who has benefitted from the books being delivered by the “Walking Librarian” said, “I took books which are for competitive examinations and thanks to her, I have written a few public service examinations of the Government of Kerala and am confident of making it.”

Radhamani is now also working with the Green army of the state government, “Haritha Karma Sena” which collects and recycles plastic bottles and lives with her husband Padmanabhan Nambiar and son Rijilesh who is an autorickshaw driver.