SAIIER 2013:Auroville Library
Mitra Youth Hostel
The Auroville Library, now located on the crown road near the Solar Kitchen, has been in operation for over 25 years, housing and lending out a wide selection of books. Today it contains more than 30,000 volumes in eight languages — English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Russian and Tamil. All the books are divided up by subject matter into approximately 60 different sections, including a special section for children. The library is using professional computer software for cataloguing and organizing the books. The cataloguing of the books follows the international standard of the Dewey decimal classification.
In addition to the books, most of which have been donated over the years or purchased (using a relatively small budget which rarely allows to purchase more than 200 new works a year), the Library also maintains a small number of subscriptions to weekly and monthly Indian and international papers and magazines. The latter are laid out for reading in a separate area of the library.
The Library opens every weekday morning from 9 to 12:30, and afternoons from 2:00 to 4:30 pm.
The Library caters to the needs of some 500 regular and 250 irregular book borrowers within Auroville, plus an important number of guests and some Auroville workers. On average, at present around 1,700 books are loaned out each month.
The construction of the new library building through a Grant from the Central Government was completed in 2010. It took us more than a year to fully establish the library in its new premises.
The new building allows the library to be more easily accessible to the users due to its central location. It also provides more space for books and an easier access to the collections. It is a major progress and improvement for the Auroville Library. The interior design and the equipment of the new building have been also completed thanks to another Grant from the Central Government. The general atmosphere and comfort of the library have been greatly improved to the apparent satisfaction of the public and the number of users has gone up from 1,300 to 1,900 in less than 2 years.
The team of the library has been expanded with two more people working part time and another one full time. One person is a trained librarian and is in charge of the catalogue which is central to the library‘s management. Another person is in charge of the front desk and specifically of the children section which we would like to develop. Another one deals with the maintenance and repair of the books and the management of the shelves. The library is open for volunteers coming from all around the world – students who want to complete their studies and people who want to have a concrete experience of Auroville by contributing to one of its services.
The main achievement of the past year was the reorganization of the library in the new premises and building a team. Extending the opening hours to morning and afternoon was an important step forward. New library catalogue software, more adapted to our work and user friendly, was created by an Aurovilian software engineer and successfully installed. It is now available to others, and already Transition School, the Center for Indian Culture and Aikiyam School are planning to use it.
The objectives for the coming year are similar to those of the previous year: increasing the quality of the service, as it is an endless and ongoing work. Developing the catalogue in all subjects and in all the presently existing languages, and acquiring art books, as the collection of those is rather small.