A Mumbaikar has created a free online library on a social media platform. On his off days, he delivers books all over the city for free.
In the age of digital technology, bibliophiles will still swear that there is nothing quite like turning the pages of a book, taking in the smell and the printed pages, perhaps a message penned on the first page. But not everyone can afford the time or indeed the money to read all the books that they want. Mumbai’s own crowdsourced library run by Pushpendra Pandya is here to help all these aspiring bibliophiles. The library is from readers, for readers and by readers.
To borrow a book, you get in touch with Pushpendra on Facebook where you can ask for the list of books they presently have. After you choose your book, he will deliver it to you free of charge over a weekend.
“I have always loved the idea of reading but I come from a lower middle-class background, and as one of five siblings, I didn’t really get to read all the books that I wanted to. It was only later when I discovered the cheap libraries and kapadiwalas that I got to read to my heart’s content. I wanted to give that sense of fulfilment to others, so I started this movement a few years ago,” says Pushpendra, who runs the library single-handedly, with occasional help from his friends.
The self-proclaimed bibliophile often asks for donations of books through his Facebook and Twitter pages and, once they are in his possession, he delivers them to those who want to read.
“Technically they are only supposed to borrow the books and then give them back, so that I can pass them on to the next set of readers, but it’s okay if they don’t. I don’t really get very bothered,” he shrugs.
To get the books, one can simply drop a message on the Facebook page asking for the volume. “If you’re not sure as to which book you want, you can ask for suggestions as well. I’ve often had mothers ask which books to give their kids. As someone who’s worked at a library in an international institution, I have some idea as to what to recommend,” asserts Pushpendra.
The book fairy, who holds down a regular nine-to-five job five days a week, delivers books on Fridays and goes for pick-ups on Sundays — the two days off that he gets in a week. “I’ve never been a very social creature, so I find solace in reading and I also like to run. I’m about to take part in the ultra marathon. But, it’s not like I’d rather be spending this time hanging out at a café or bar. I like delivering books. In a day, I often cover distances from Goregaon to Chuchgate,” says the bookworm.
However, it’s not always been easy sailing, especially where funds are concerned. “I tried to ask for a nominal amount of money from subscribers after I had been delivering books for a while. However, though we did have a few subscribers, we didn’t have a lot. So, we stopped it. Right now though, we’re trying to tie up with couriers so that we can ask for just delivery charges if nothing else. It gets a bit difficult to deliver all the books on time, as a one-man team, with a couple of friends to help out,” he sighs.
Pushpendra recently donated most of his books to upcoming local libraries. Now, he is busy building up a collection once more. “I’m actually on a pick up run right now. I’m just talking to you between destinations. I’m looking forward to building up a full collection once more and then the deliveries will start in full force once more,” he signs off.