1 January, 2018: I wake up to hear the sad news that Eloor Libraries is shutting down. It takes some time for me to even grasp, as I look at the facebook post, by another member who loves the library, announcing the same.
Eloor: that’s the name that reverberated the walls of my house since when I was five. I remember going there every weekend, and picking up four or five books to read through the week. In fact, that is the library that has literally seen me grow into the reader I am today. From the Beetle series, that had just a big picture and a single small line in a page, to binge reading series like the Famous Five, Amelia Jane, Sleepover Girls, Harry Potter and Hardy boys, to slowly exploring H G Wells, Robert Stevenson, and the children’s classics section that held Heidi, Hans Brinker and Silver Skates, Treasure Island, Little Women and the likes, to obsessing over the racks of Agatha Christie, Perry Mason, Robin Cook and Dan Brown, to graduating into Shaw, Dickens, Tolkien and the likes, as I grew older, the library has given me everything!
I remember jotting down random title names from various sources, and pestering the staff to find those odd titles for me. I remember how those Uncles who work there, smiled knowingly everytime I walked into the library. I remember how they bought copies of the books that the library didn’t have, because I wanted to read those titles. I remember when my brother picked up the same books that I had earlier read, and the member number 6066 was still scrawled in the vertical, rectangular white piece of due date paper, since when I had issued it some years back. Being very regular visitors, my brother and I used to call them up everytime there was a new book realeased by some author, and we wanted it to be issued to us first, or kept without being issued until we could come and collect it. To suddenly realize that the library is not going to exist anymore is painstakingly sad.
Eloor was a library that did justice to its tagline: for love of good books. The staff in the library, who we grew to call Uncles, have been there as long as I can remember, and were one of the best librarians, helping us with books and suggestions.
But, like my dad says, the shutting down of Eloor was not something unforceable. One major reason was that the number of people signing up and subscribing to lending libraries was coming down. Only people like us, who were members since a long time knew the real value of this place. I just didn’t expect to wake up one random day and hear that it’s going to be gone.
Anyway, I wrote this post in an urge as I really had to do something to hold on to the memories of this favourite place in Chennai that made my childhood wonderful. I’ll miss reading books on the 6066 member ID, that gave me 14 days to finish the books I had issued and then come back for more.