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Urban Junkie

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Rightful Reading Rights

“It has come to our notice that some members are misusing their membership and have been claiming to “lose” some of our precious books with the intention of keeping them for themselves. Such members are not just cheating us, they are depriving other honest members of their rights and reading pleasure. Let us make it clear that we shall not tolerate such behaviour, and all such thieves (yes, we do not hesitate to call them thieves, for that is what they are) shall be dispatched pronto”

Whether you are amused or alarmed by this notice, be assured that Eloor Lending Library means business. Reading this post by The One last night has left me neck-deep in Eloor nostalgia which I feel compelled to share with you.

Eloor Lending Library, as everyone knows (or should know) is the last bastion of Library Excellence. But more importantly, it is a vigilant upholder of Library Morality (for the lesser souls among us who lack an instinctive respect for library membership rules).

Signs such as the one above leap out at you from every corner. They stare at you from both ends of every aisle, lurk behind the Maughams and the Chandlers, and sit primly behind every check-out counter. I have always wanted to meet the writer of the Eloor notices. Compositions of utter brilliance, these signs, combining at once the taut grimness of best-in-class detective fiction and the unwavering sternness of Jane Eyre. No other library, in my view, manages to evoke the same awed respect with its notices. Consider, for example, this one spotted in a Gurgaon library last year:

Look, look, look
Don’t steal my book
Stealing is not a game
It is a big big shame

Just not the same, is it? Hardly the sort of stuff that terrifies truant library-book-pinchers into being on their best behaviour.

Eloor, on the other hand, has been responsible for remolding many young and misdirected lives. Mine too, I must shamefacedly confess. In my wayward, misspent youth I used to be a Late Returner of books. So late, in fact, that I had managed at one time to be classified as a Thief, having convinced Eloor that I intended never to return a certain book. I still have a copy of the letter that made me see the light. A letter that ended with

“It would be a pity to sever this beautiful relationship. Would you really want to lose forever the joy of borrowing from this library? You will, if you deny others that joy. In your best interests, we urge you to do what is Right and return the books immediately”.

I was, in other words, in danger of being dispatched pronto. Needless to say, the books were returned without further ado. Pronto, as it were.

It is a long time since I have been to Eloor. (Books are much easier to buy these days, now that I am no longer struggling at the bottom of the food chain). I am told the Eloor collection is no longer the same, although the Notices remain. The library has apparently degenerated into a swamp of Mills & Boons. What a pity, if it is true. I like to think of Eloor as the last bastion of Library Excellence, even if I am no longer a privileged member.

12 Comments:

  • "dispatched pronto"? Really? Can't think of Eloor using words embodying any sort of dynamism; and certainly none of Perry Mason-ish slang.

    By Anonymous tara, at 5:07 AM, March 12, 2006  

  • this post has touched a chord...I have been a member of Eloor for, let's see now, 14 years now...11 years in trivandrum, and now 3 in Bangalore...And believe me, I try my best to convince people who're looking for a good library that Eloor is the best...and you're right, their notices are the best...they sound so, well, honourable...
    P.S: You should see the Trivandrum branch of Eloor. The Bangalore branch is nothing compared to it. And who knows, we might have run into each other sometime in the library.

    By Blogger the Monk, at 10:26 AM, March 12, 2006  

  • I feel mighty ignorant now... I have NO idea what Eloor is :(

    By Blogger Casablanca, at 5:02 AM, March 13, 2006  

  • oh, you bring back memories! I have always been convinced that the Eloor Proclamations were decreed by a very fluffy Miss Marple clone, with her true personality only shining through gimlet eyes. The stuff of nightmares, believe me.
    In the T Nagar branch in Chennai, there even used to be a newspaper clipping, yellow and fading - it has probably crumbled to dust now but the story is forever imprinted in my mind. It told of a man in Kerala who was given six months rigourous imprisonment for yes, stealing books. Needless to say, the Gimlet-eyed one thought it very mild punishment.

    By Blogger Sheetal, at 5:29 AM, March 13, 2006  

  • tara: clearly you have not being paying attention to the notices at Eloor. Would explain a lot about the length of time their books seem to lurk in your possession. Tsk.

    monk, sheetal ... back me up here! Evidently you have the content of those notices as deeply engraved on your psyche as I do. Enlighten tara, will you?
    ... and sheetal, your words chill me to the bone. Six months' rigorous imprisonment, you say? Whew, what a narrow escape.

    casablanca: ah, you have missed out, you poor soul. Eloor has to be experienced, words just cannot do it justice.

    By Blogger Anjali, at 6:33 AM, March 13, 2006  

  • Interesting post. It's not too often that people frequent a lending library and get quite such a kick out of (or should I say ... are so impressed by) the side notes left by staff! :)

    When I was a little girl, the library in our town used to charge something like three cents per year for an unreturned book. Now I think it's up to a nickel per year.

    With the simple practice of reading books online now, or even better yet, listening to books on tape, it amazes me that libraries are not extinct by now.

    By Blogger Weary Hag, at 2:29 PM, March 13, 2006  

  • No, no, Eloor isnt bad even now. (Neither are their notices - the quality of those stays right up there!!)

    By Blogger apu, at 12:20 AM, March 14, 2006  

  • One has been introduced, it would seem, to a remarkable institution. It shall, of course, be visited at the earliest opportunity.

    Incidentally, a poster in the library here proclaims: "Let him who reads, reflect." Which is quite a brilliant saying, come to think of it. The poster is pithy, poetic, and to the point. Unfortunately, it is also placed opposite a full-length mirror.

    By Blogger One in a Billion, at 7:42 AM, March 14, 2006  

  • It's indeed sad to see a library degenerate into a place which stacks Mills and Boons - I have seen it happen to a library opposite my house in Calcutta

    By Blogger ichatteralot, at 2:29 AM, March 19, 2006  

  • I like the stern-sounding signs.

    I worked at a library for four years, and am also the daughter of a librarian, so I'm one of those frowners-upon of People Who Don't Bring Back Their Books Ever.

    However, I have been known to be a Late-Returner. Heh, I can't bring it back till I'm done! :)

    By Blogger Spider Girl, at 10:44 PM, March 26, 2006  

  • LIE-Bray-Re
    ---------------------
    Lie=A statement that deviates from or perverts the truth
    Bray=he cry of an ass
    ---------------------
    Re=With regard or relation to
    ---------------------

    WHere is this place?

    By Blogger AlterinG Abhishek, at 2:29 AM, March 28, 2006  

  • Thanks for details. Another cool library is Book Boutique and they are online as well at www.bookbonline.com
    Ph 97418 95926.
    Book Boutique, Shop No 8, 1st Floor, Vishal Complex,E Block, AECS Layout, Opp. Lakme Beauty Salon,ITPL Road, Brookefields, Bangalore

    - Kannan

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:35 AM, October 08, 2008  

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