Sunday, May 23, 2010

Delhi's Not So Public Libraries

Cordelia Jenkins relates her difficulties borrowing a book from public libraries in Delhi.

It’s lucky the sign was there because, if it hadn’t been, I would never have guessed this was the place I was looking for. The library in Andrews Ganj is described as a sub-branch, and visitors should take that description literally. It’s a grey concrete block set back from the road in a dusty yard. An abandoned playground, with a broken roundabout and a swing set without any swings, peeled its paint onto scrubby grass. A couple of teenage boys lolled against their bikes by the gates. Inside three middle-aged men sat at the central table reading newspapers under the draught of a listless fan. No one had a book out. I headed for the English language shelves and perused the collection of Penguin classics and the complete works of William Dalrymple.


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