The 180-year old central library of Goa, now named after Konkani literature of 16th century Krishnadas Shama, is just not a new five-storied building but reflects a new philosophical outlook with hi-tech facilities.
The new library complex, which was inaugurated by chief minister Manohar Parrikar on 23 April, is perhaps the best library complex in India at this stage.
Designed by nationally renowned Goan architect Gerard D’Cunha, the building also has a sixth mezzanine floor dedicated to rare Portuguese books while its ground and underground floor houses Directorate of Art & Culture.
The most fascinating among all the features of this central library are the new modern facilities, making the job easy and comfortable.
Its censor-fitted doors simply do not allow anybody to take out any book, DVD or any other material without registering in the fully computerized system. The beep at the door simply embarrasses you.
The books are not delivered at the counter but at the self check-in and check-out kiosks which accept it electronically.
The library even has one such electronic drop box in the open lounge, where any member can drop the book even at odd hours, even when the library is closed.
Carlos Fernandes, the curator, says the book drop facility would also be made available at all its 145 libraries spread in the nook and corner of Goa; no need to come to Panaji to deliver it.
In fact the future plan is to network all the libraries so that book searching would be facilitated at village level rather than making special trip to the capital city just to find out whether it’s available in Panaji or any other library.
Equally fascinating is the ‘book lift’, through which any book could travel from any floor to the member after surfing through the intranet facility made available on computers on all the five floors.
Over 1.68 lakh books, including 236 brail books as well as 2746 e-journals and 1590 DVDs, are available for lending or references. But not a single cupboard is above the human height, making it fully airy and comfortable to move around.
In fact each floor has tables with chairs and even sofas on both sides at the glass walls to read and even discuss while viewing the Rua de Ourem creek as well as the mangroves.
The children’s section on the second floor in fact is the most thrilling experience, which even Parrikar felt like spending time at. The cupboards are colourful and the books are cuddled by teddy bears of different sizes.
There are 12 computers available for browsing and five television sets for viewing movies including 3D movies.
Adjoining this section is a 96-sitter AV room-cum-story telling room, even with a green room for dressing up and make up.
World’s biggest 105-inch television set is installed in this ‘dream room’ to watch even 3D films for 100 kids at a time.
Internet browsing however is just not the privilege of children. It has 51 PCs on the same floor exclusively for browsing while each floor also has PCs for other references.
Research is one area the central library has sincerely focused upon, with a treasure of 29,044 reference books, old newspapers and magazines, 461 microfilms as well as the whole world made available through internet surfing, besides laptop-connecting facility.
“We have made nine special cubicles available, including four closed-door rooms with internet and storing facility available, for research scholars on hire-out basis”, proudly says Prasad Lolayekar, the director of art & culture.
In addition, hi-tech machines are being hired for data imaging of any reference book as well as to print any rare book.
The special state of the art printing machine would compile the whole book, print it and provide a bound copy within no time, provided you pay for it.
Also it has a lecture hall with a hi-tech white board as well as a projector, with a sitting capacity of 100, for research activities like seminars, symposiums, lectures, screening and debates.
But the central library is just not for the ‘haves’, but also for the ‘have nots’.
There is a special study room with 13 cubicles, for those who can’t afford to study at home in a peaceful manner.
It includes those living in a congested house as well as those struggling youngsters who work during day time and study at night.
“This section would be open throughout the night for all the needy students”, states Lolayekar, who has meticulously designed the library even for the underprivileged; just not the privileged.
His next target is to make it the best library in the whole of Asia… (courtesy: Frederick Noronha