All my professions have taken me to Goa, from visiting a manufacturing plant to recruiting management graduates and luxury train travel. This time, it was my Book Reviews blog that brought me to Goa. I was there to speak at the Publishing Next conference. The venue was the Krishnadas Shama State central library of Goa. I was excited about the venue as I have never seen such big events being hosted by a library. And it sounded just the perfect place for a publishing conference.
When we landed at the building it was a pleasant discovery to see a public library that is so well maintained and is such a live and lively place. It is one of the best Digital libraries in India.
Krishnadas Shama State Central Library, Goa
There are modern art installations inspired by Mario Miranda welcoming you at the entrance. There are many interesting sculptures scattered around the well-designed public facility. A huge contemplating face sculpture made with recycled tire rubber stood out and lots of us were seen posing with it. There were other sculptures across the big hall that had curious seating benches in the shape of a Swastika. Conference and lecture halls with all modern amenities made it a useful place for small to medium gatherings.
They do not allow footwear inside these halls, I guess to maintain the carpet flooring. But it was such a delight to be able to move around bare feet for two days and I think it brought a bit of informality into the gathering. The cafeteria also has murals of Mario Miranda. There was an exhibition going on of Konkani Books.
I discovered that this is the oldest public library in India dating back to 1832. It had seen many changes of hands as the state itself went through changes. The present building is fairly new, though. The curator here Mr. Carlos Fernandes was kind enough to take me for a tour of the facilities. While he passionately showed me various floors and sections of the facilities, I discovered why this is such a living space, unlike most other public libraries in India.
He was a man so passionate about the place, he knew where each book was and who the regular visitors are.
The pride in his voice was overwhelming. They have used technology intelligently to increase the usefulness of the facility. Each book here is RFID tagged, another first for a public facility like this.
The rare book section has books from the 16th CE including the first book ever printed in India. Many manuscripts and a great deal of Indo-Portuguese literature, a complete collection of newspapers ever published in Goa, and a fair section of books in the local language Konkani. All the rare and old books have been digitized and only digital copies are made available. An internal conservation lab conserves the originals.
As I stood in the rare book section, I felt like I am standing in the richest place on earth. The Constitution of India, an original copy signed by the founders of India is proudly displayed for anyone to see. All state libraries have a copy of the same but how many of them display is a question. I liked the fact that this public library is named after the 16th CE Goan author who wrote Krishna Charitakatha and other stories from Puranas and not a politician.
Popular Library with readers
I saw many schoolchildren getting off school buses and visiting public facilities. Standing in the queue to exchange books, reading, browsing, and roughly spending an hour or so at the library. We met the ex-CM of Goa Smt. Shashikala Kakodakar sitting and reading old newspaper archives and was eager to talk and tell us the political history of Goa. I was told that it is not unusual to see the present CM walking in at times. The children’s section was colorful and had stuffed toys along with books.
We could see children running around and enjoying themselves. Here and there, people were sitting and talking to each other. Local participants in the conference told me that they visit the facility regularly.
Is this not how public space should be? Actually, used by the public, as a common place for them to meet and enjoy the common heritage.
Maybe it is time to restart a library movement in India.
Recommend you to read the following travel blog on Places to visit in Goa.
A Walk of Discovery at Arvalem
Chorla Ghat – Drive through Goa Hinterlands
Offbeat Places to Visit in Goa – In a Day
Love the library…. Have been looking for good libraries when I was in Delhi and now in hyderabad. They have weird membership rules and are too depressing…
I thoroughly enjoyed the post after hearing it today.
@Parul: Please try British Library and Just Books Clc. Both are good.
I am unsure about how you will find the rules though.
I like your post. And also the library and the first book printing in India.
Parul, Delhi has many libraries. I loved the AIIS library in Gurgaon but it is a subject library and has only art history books. Hyderabad I am yet to find one, though I have visited the two big ones and they were quite a disappointment.
Nivedita, Do not forget to visit it when you visit Goa
Thanks Web Tec Mart
Such a beautiful place and amazing photos of it
This is nice post, I like it.
I really enjoyed my PubNxt 2013 seminar there.