SAIIER 2014:Auroville Library
Laboratory of Evolution
The Auroville Library, located on the crown road near the Solar Kitchen, has been in operation for over 25 years now, housing and lending out a wide selection of books. Today it contains more than 35,000 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 section especially for children. The library is using a 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 allowed for more than 200 new works a year), the Library also maintains a small number of subscriptions to weekly and monthly Indian and international journals. 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 meets 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 1,900 books are loaned out each month.
The construction of the new library building through a Grant of the Indian Government has been completed in 2010. It took us more than one year to 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 library. The interior design and the equipment of the new building have been also completed thanks to Grant of the Indian Government. The general atmosphere and comfort of the library has been greatly improved to the satisfaction of the public and the number of users has stretched 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 that is the core of the library management, another person is in charge of the front desk and specifically of the children’s section which we would like to develop and another one helps to the maintenance 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 achievement in the past years was the reorganisation of the library in the new premises and building a team. Extending the opening hours to morning and afternoon was an important step forward. A 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, the Center for Indian Culture and Aikiyam School are planning to use it.
As we are waiting for a major donation (around 5,000 books) from an Auroville friend and thanks to the generosity of the Aurovilians and the Auroville partners, we have bought 29 double sided shelves from Godrej in order to expand substantially the library capacity of storing books. In general, the rate of books acquisition is quite high and we hope to be able to keep its pace for the next 3 to 4 years. After that we will face serious difficulties to develop further the collections.
A new website has been developped and is available at: library.auroville.org.in
We plan for the coming year to develop and establish an e-book section as we have discovered that there is a lot of material already available in Auroville through the Aurovilians. Most probably this section will expand exponentially and will increase the library contribution toward culture and knowledge.