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      Library of a different kind

      P V ShyamThe collection here includes novels, short stories, biographies, etc, mostly in Malayalam, as only a few prisoners are able to understand English and other languages. | Sep 15, 2011, 04:30 IST

      THRISSUR: If you thought those behind the bars have nothing to do with books, pay a visit to Viyyur central jail and you would be proved wrong. It is the only jail in the state which has a separate building for a library with an open auditorium. Of the 800-odd convicts lodged here, almost everyone frequents the library.

      "We have over 10,000 books, besides newspapers and periodicals. None of the prisoners comes here as a book-lover, but the confinement in prison attracts many to books available in our library. Most of them spend their free-time in the library reading books and discussing social issues with others at the auditorium," said Santhosh T G, welfare officer, who is the officer-in-charge of the library.

      The collection here includes novels, short stories, biographies, etc, mostly in Malayalam, as only a few prisoners are able to understand English and other languages.

      "We have stocked a good collection of English, Hindi and Tamil novels too. The library is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day and those willing to take books to their cell are allowed to do so," he said.

      The entire management of the library -- allotting books to inmates and register procedures -- is done by prisoners.

      The prisoners are happy that they can effectively use their free time for improving their knowledge and thinking. Ramachandran (name changed, as per directions of the jail authorities), a prisoner, stands in testimony for the same.

      "I am a regular visitor to the library. Reading novels and other books lifts me to a totally different plain. Had I done this earlier, I would have been a totally different person," says Ramachandran, who is serving lifetime for killing a relative.

      Impressed with the reading habit of its inmates, the Kerala State Library Council awarded the Viyyur central jail library with the first prize in b-category libraries in the district in 2009-2010. It also sanctioned a sum of Rs 2.22 lakh to the library.

      for adding to the stock of books, furniture and for providing computers in the library, as per a project submitted by the jail authorities.

      Last year too, the library was given Rs 50,000, four computers and shelves.

      "Viyyur central jail library is the most utilized library in its category in the district. We hope to make the library in Viyyur jail one of the best jail libraries in the state, if not in the country," said Santhosh T G.

      Thrissur: They are lodged behind bars, - for a short term of lifetime, they are considered the 'villains' by the society for their criminal background. But, the inmates of the Central Jail at Viyyur have a message to spread in the 'outer world' - to read, read and read.

      Though confined in the prison, almost all the 800-odd convicts lodged at the Viyyur Central Jail have developed the habit of reading. Almost everyone pays visit to the library - only Viyyur Jail has separate building for library with an open auditorium in the State - regularly and read whatever they like.

      "We have over 10,000 books in addition to daily newspapers and periodicals. None of the prisoners enter the jail as a book-lover, but the confinement in the prison attracts many to books available in our library. Most spend their entire free-time in the library reading books and discussing social issues with others at the auditorium," said Welfare Officer and In-Charge of the Library Santhosh TG.

      Majority of the books, consisting of novels, history, short stories, life stories, etc, is in Malayalam language, as only a few prisoners understood English and other languages. "Still we have stocked a good collection of English, Hindi and Tamil novels. The library is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day and those willing to take books to their prison cell are allowed to borrow books," he added.

      At least 40 books are borrowed by the inmates and the library witnesses a footfall of 200 every day. The entire management of the library including allotting books and register procedures are done by prisoners only.

      Even the prisoners are happy that they can effectively use their free time for improving general knowledge and way of thought. Ramachandran (name changed, as per direction by jail authorities) is the best example for the same. "I am a regular visitor of the library. Reading novels and other books lifts me to a totally different plain beyond my imagination before coming to the prison. Had it been known to me earlier, I would have been a totally different person," says Ramachandran, who is serving lifetime for killing his relative.

      Even the Kerala State Library Council is impressed with the reading habit of Viyyur jail inmates. The Council had awarded the first prize in b-category libraries in the district for its excellent service in the year 2009-2010 and sanctioned a sum of Rs 2.22 lakh to the library for adding to the stock of books, furniture and for providing computers in the library, as per a project submitted by the jail authorities. Last year too, the library was awarded Rs 50,000 in addition to four computers and shelves.

      "Viyyur Central Jail Library is the most utilized library in its category in the district. We hope to make the library in Viyyur jail one of the best jail libraries, if not in the country, in the State as a whole," concluded Santhosh TG.

      --

      End.

      BOX

      * The library in the Viyyur Central Jail is the only library with separate building in the jails in the State

      * Although short duration convicts do visit the library and scan through the daily newspapers and periodicals, life term prisoners are found to be keener in utilizing the library facility in the jail.

      * The library also houses text books and reference books for the benefit of prisoners who study for various educational programmes.

      * About 50 prisoners use reference volumes available in the library.

      --

      End.


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