J&K: People returning to libraries in Srinagar for reading amid Covid restrictions

J&K: People returning to libraries in Srinagar for reading amid Covid restrictions
Lal Chowk (City center/File)

Lubna Fayaz

Srinagar (NVI): People are returning to public libraries here for reading and studying amid a fall in the number of daily Covid cases in J&K and Unlock 5 guidelines in place that were issued last month.

The footfall has gradually increased to at least above 30 people per day at SPS library in Lalchowk that is getting about 13 to 14 books issues every day.

All the SOPs are maintained in the public libraries for the safety of the people, according to Chief Librarian, SPS library, Shazia. The staff is advised to take care of all issued guidelines.

“We adhere to strict guidelines when it comes to public dealing as people from all age groups are associated with it – be it young or elderly,” she said.

Shazia said that initially, only a few people were allowed to in the reading room but now, as the restrictions are easing out, nobody is stopped.

“We allow everyone to read here, however, like earlier we don’t allow group discussions to take place here as that would lead to a crowd and disturb the social distancing,” she added.

The management also keeps books, which are returned by the borrowers, in quarantine, in order to maintain safety.

“We have made it mandatory to keep books closed for two days and they are also sanitized so that there remains no threat of infection,” Shazia added.

She said that students preparing for various competitive exams come here every day and sit for the whole day without any disturbance.

“I cannot concentrate on books at home so I come here every day. This place offers peace. I need this environment to prepare for the exams,” said Qudsia who is preparing for MD after completing her MBBS.

Zubair, another student pursuing B.Tech said, “Initially, I would come here for two to three days in a week only but now as the situation is getting better, I visit every day.”

The libraries are offering an environment which some people miss at their homes or office. “I write so I come here. Writing needs solace and comfort which is best offered around books,” said Mir Altaf.

Mir Altaf further said that he spends most of his days in the SPS library, either reading books or writing down his thoughts. He said that the management is taking care of all SOPs and nobody is allowed in without masks.

Some people also said that they have been craving to visit the libraries during the entire COVID-19 lockdown period.

“I missed the sound of libraries, noise of people, rustling of book pages, I missed it all when we were under complete lockdown. To me visiting a library is next to eating. I need to be around books” said Manzoor Ahmad Wani, an educationist.

-ARK