Dimapur, April 4 (EMN): A few years ago, a Dimapur citizen Susan Lotha and her father would sit and talk about anything and everything under the sun. During one of the conversations, he expressed a desire to see a beautiful library set up in Dimapur where he and his “pensioner friends” can go and read books to spend their time.
After his passing in April 2015, Susan Lotha often thought about her conversation about the library and the discussion she had with her father. “It was always at the back of my mind,” she recalled.
Saying that a public library in the district was most important but as much neglected, Lotha emphasised how important it was to bring the society together, considering Dimapur was Nagaland’s commercial hub.
During the month of June 2017, Lotha came across a post on a social networking site from one Imtisunep Longchar, proposing the idea of having a library in Dimapur. She wasted no time in commenting and contacted him whom she had never spoken to before. “I had never spoken or met imtisunep in my life,” exclaimed Susan. They met for the first time on Aug. 11 2017 and that’s where the initiative was conceived.
The whole concept was simple: set up a place where not just the young but the retired, aged, and tje differently-able also can spend a productive time reading. That there is a lot of intellectual retired persons in Nagaland too, Lotha explained, “A safe place to sit and read was the need of the hour.”
The next step was to form a team that understood the concept. After approaching several people, 11 responded positively and in just two days of meeting one another, Lotha and Longchar formed the core team that led to the ‘Dimapur public library.’
In order to understand what people thought of the idea of a “public library” the team decided to conduct a survey of 100 people from different professions and backgrounds. 63 people responded supportively.
With a drive to bring positive changes, the team wrote to the Dimapur administration on Sept. 4 2017. “We wanted to seek his assistance and explore the possibility of any government office space lying vacant which could be leased out or preferably free for a certain period of years,” Lotha recalled. The deputy commissioner then was believed to have given an optimistic response. Unfortunately his transfer was declared and the plan could not be taken farther.
According to the founding members of the library, proper collective laws and rules are not present in Nagaland. “There is no library legislation act in Nagaland, it would be good if the government could propose for that under the art and culture department” they alluded adding that once this act is enforced, transparency is maintained along with audit and recording.
“The reading culture is diminishing in the State and young people are wasting away” said Susan then adding that having a library not just for reading but also provide a place of recreational activities and promoting a “reading culture for all age groups, creating awareness of art and culture and providing easy accessibility of educational materials for the community.”
It was after many months that the team finally found a place at the Industrial Estate, at the Firing Range junction. It was with a monthly rent of INR 3200 a month and security of INR 20,000. Donations started coming in from friends and family. It is believed that some have even taken a pledge for a year to donate INR 200 every month to help run the establishment. “We wanted that there should be easy access to the library for people with disabilities so we made sure it was located on the ground floor for which we build a ramp,” Lotha said.
“Friends of the members from outside the state like Bangalore, Delhi and Goa have been big donors of cash and books apart from local donors like Heritage Publishing House and other writers and young people,” Susan said implying that all who donated were people who understood the concept and importance of reading.
Apart from being a single mother, Susan Lotha is a trained counsellor and currently working as a member for the Juvenile Justice Board of Dimapur. Imtisunep Longchar is the proprietor of a shopping website from Nagaland, ilandlo.
There are three types of cash donations: A one-time donation, a six-month pledge, and a one-year pledge. Also, all used and unused books may be donated. Membership fee for students with Identity card is INR 100 and for the public, INR 300. It shall have to be renewed after a year. For the differently-able and children under 10 years of age, membership is stated to be free.
The library is scheduled for inauguration around mid-April at Tongpok villa, Industrial Estate.