City Libraries – Progressive Girls Council, Marwari Lines

The Progressive Girl Council Reading Room can only accommodate 15 or so people. The bookshelves are installed higher on the wall to make more room for people. There is an arch in middle for no reason. There is a loud speaker and an amplifier lying in one corner. There are empty plates in another. The reading room is not just a library but a community space for women in Marwari Lines, most of which have grown old with the the council. From this very room they plan social and cultural activities for women and youth of Marwari Lines.

I am there with a couple of fellow explorers. The Reading room opens at six o clock every evening and we finally reach there a little before seven after fighting with traffic and other distractions in middle. We find the reading room brimming with activity. Turns out that it is the last meeting of Progressive Girls Council in these premises. Since its inception in 1964, the council has shifted to three or four locations due to lack of funds.

“We probably will be meeting in even smaller room next time”, says a council executive and laughs. The landlord has rendered a notice to the council sometime back and despite fight back, the council eventually had to give in. The women are confident and unassuming. The are educated and take pride in the fact that they have invested in their children’s education. They invite us to an event on 18th of Jan which is being organized to celebrate high achievers in matriculation exam. Some of their children have gone abroad to study but they take pride that most of them come back and contribute to their community and society at large.

“How active is the library”, I inquire looking at the books, some of which look fragile.

They tell me that not many people read or borrow books anymore. They attribute it to the penetration of mobile and internet. However they vouch to make books available to those who are still interested. The Reading room has been operational due to the donations given by the members, all of which come from Marwari Lines. There is a noticeboard on the wall which has contributions of each member listed. The council do complain about lack of funds but it has not stopped them from making difference in their area of influence.

The women also take pride in Reading room’s association with Habib Jalib and Faiz Ahmed Faiz, both having visited the reading room. Jalib frequented the original Reading room which was common for both males and females. The collection of books and the title itself hints at the progressive leaning of the council.

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Categories: City Libraries

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