Meet Yashoda D Shenoy, the 12-year-old Indian, Kerala girl who runs a free library in Kochi, India.
Yashoda learned about library dues and decided to start a free library after she thought about the poor who would not be able to access books to read.
“It is open every day, from 9 am to 7 pm. When I go to school, my mom or dad or brother is there,”
Nearly six months ago, Yashoda’s Library was opened on the top floor of her house, converting the gallery of her dad who is an artist, to a library-cum-gallery. On one side, there is her father Dinesh R Shenoy’s paintings, which have been kept aside to make space for the many racks of books, and chairs and desks to read them on.
Yashoda, who read books from the age of eight with the help of her elder brother Achuth and mother Brahmaja, had no idea there was a cost one has to pay to read.
“I saw dad pay money when a library book was due. When I asked him about it, he said no book came free. I wondered then how people without money would read. What about those who didn’t even have ten rupees with them.”
It didn’t take much longer for the thought to turn into action. For the child, it was simple. If there were no free books so far, she would just have to start giving them. She told her dad about it, he published a post on Facebook and books came from many places.
“We began with about 2000 books, now there are more than 3500. We have separated them into fiction – stories, novels and poems among them – and non-fiction. There are books in English, Malayalam, Konkani, Hindi and Sanskrit,”
The books in the library are for both children and grownups. Her classmates and even her teachers at school have taken membership at the free library.
“There is no fine but a book is to be taken out for 15 days and then brought back. For the unwell and the aged who cannot come to the library, we deliver the books they want at home if we have it in the library,”
It is her dream to own a very large library, she says, with a very long-term foresight. “Yashoda loves to read books, and she believes that reading should be free for everyone. Her brother is also a member of her library. I am very proud of my daughter.” said Ms Shenoy’s father Dinesh R Shenoy. Aren’t we all?
If you are a librarian, you’d need to retire one day. But if you own your library, you don’t need to go anywhere.
– Yashoda D Shenoy