Bhubaneswar: With an aim to develop reading habits in students, youngsters and encourage community engagement at a time when people are hooked to the Internet, smart phones and social media, the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) has opened a public library in Biju Patnaik Park, popularly known as ‘Forest Park’, located in the heart of the city today; on the occasion of World Poetry Day.
A first-of-its-kind initiative in Odisha, the ‘Forest Park Library’ was inaugurated by Shri R. Balakrishnan, retired IAS and Chief Advisor to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in presence of BDA Vice-Chairman, Shri Prem Chandra Chaudhary.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Balakrishnan said: “It is a great step by the BDA to step up and promote park library culture at a time when reading habit is declining among youngsters. This library will definitely attract children, students, book lovers and people visiting the park spend some time in reading amid a cool and peaceful environment.
In the age of Internet and social media, there is a decline in reading habit. Therefore, initiatives like park library will surely help in encouraging and promoting reading habits among all.” The Forest Park Library is a collaboration between BDA and city-based BAKUL Foundation.
The BDA has provided the space and the physical infrastructure required for setting up the library. Bakul then developed it into a creative library space with racks and books and attractive murals. Bakul will be managing the library as well.
Saying more such libraries will come up in other big parks in the city, BDA Vice-Chairman, Shri Chaudhary said: “The main purpose behind setting up a park library is to giving an opportunity to book lovers, and especially underprivileged children in reading different kinds of book, which are quite expensive to buy from market. We will ensure that the library gets a good collection Odia books in different genres.”
He further informed that the BDA is planning to set up more such libraries in other big size parks in the city to promote park library culture.
Since the library is located within the park, it opens and closes according to the park’s timings. It is open from 7 am to 10 am and from 4 pm to 7 pm. The library is open throughout week except Monday.
Since the library is located in the heart of the sprawling park, it is shut off from the noise outside and is an ideal haunt for quiet reading. The book section includes a collection of Odia and English books and has shelves with books for children too, with chairs and tables meant for them.
Besides the stock and Odia books, it has English bestsellers and classics,and a host of textbooks for students. Though this library caters to people of all ages it gives more focus to children and students. Children’s all-time favorite series like Wimpy Kids, Geronimo Stilton books, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Enid Baytown books, the Harry Potter series in Fantasy etc.
The Forest Park Library has the Bakul signature with beautiful and alluring murals on the outside, attractive open bookshelves and a wonderful curation of books focusing on children but with books for adults as well. The books have been graded into difficulty levels and genres to get a child interested in reading without intimidating them.
The Library has books in English and Odia, but there is a shelf each for children’s books in Hindi and French as well. Bakul will engage its volunteers – comprise students, retired people, homemakers and professionals – who will conduct storytelling sessions, creative workshops and live performances to attract students and youngsters into the library and inculcating a habit of reading.
Founder-Secretary of BAKUL Foundation, Shri Sujit Mahapatra, who was present on the occasion, said: “A librarian will be engaged in the Forest Park library who can guide children in choosing books and help them discover their tastes in reading.”
Currently, around 2000 books, including fiction, non-fiction, biographies, classics and textbooks are available in the library. More books will be added in the coming days.
Among others who are present are Secretary, BDA, Shri Harish Chandra Nayak, Chief- Engineercum- Engineer Member, BDA, Shri Rajendra Kumar Nayak and Chief Horticulturist, BDA, Shri Ashok N. Dhar, among others.