Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Shops, Smoking, School Library et al

It took me a while to decide, where I should be putting this blog entry...on my personal blog or on this 'professional' blog. Finally decided to put it here because the subject matter is about a book shop and book shops surely influence education.

A group of enthusiastic educators from Dehradoon invited me for a book reading to the city in a book shop. For me it was just another book shop until I entered it and engaged with it. I had read about the smoker's room in the bookstore on the web and was interested to explore it. A bookstore which boasts of a smoker's room is something interesting.

I was introduced to the charming store owner, Mr Ashish and I started with the enquiry about the smoker's room. It took me no time to find out the reason of the smoker's room...the store owner himself was a smoker. But the moment I entered the smoking was clear that I was perhaps in my world of judgement and opinions. And...I recollected what somebody shared with me a few days ago at a chai shop. A person who recently got to know that I am an author was smoking there and he offered me a cigarette. I politely refused saying that I dont smoke (I had quit at that time). He wondered and said "Writers are usually smokers. How come you dont smoke?". There is perhaps a connection between writers, readers and smokers. A painting in the smokers room actually connected it to artists as well.

Anyways, coming back to the main story, I complimented Ashish (pic below) on this unique venture and he started sharing his perspective on book shops. He shared such interesting insights on a book shop that I actually put my mobile phone on a recording mode. Fundamental No. 1

"You don't choose a book...a book chooses you"
As I started thinking about this, he shared that most often people just walk into a book shop, just looking around and suddenly you find an interesting book to buy. I agreed somewhere as I am in the habit of picking up a book randomly. He shared that he had deliberately not created marked sections in the shop, placarding the subject matter of books. The customers were supposed to just go around and explore.

Fundamental 2
'A book shop is a place to relax and to have a conversation'
He says that you need to find a shop, where you can go and have a conversation with the owner and generate love.

Fundamental 3
'I dont blame the readers, if they dont come to book shops. The book shops need to generate interest. And thats what I am up to'

My conversation with Ashish moved me to start thinking of opening a book shop.


Linking this to education is my job here. I have shared my bit on school libraries in my book.

If children are not interested in reading in a school, its the problem of the librarian not the children. A librarian perhaps needs to a friendly person, who just engages with children and shares books that interest them. Unfortunately, most schools recruit librarians, who are the most un-interesting people around. They may have a degree in library sciences but they cant figure out the interest of children. A true librarian for me is a person, who can generate that interest in children to read.

I would want to see the school librarian in the playground, sharing books about Sachin Tendulkar and Dhoni with cricketers, so that when they visit the library, the pick up that book. Thats where reading will start.

Also, just as Ashish has a smoking room in his book shop. In a school library, you could have a section, where children can talk. You cant expect them to be silent all the time. May be they want to share about an interesting book with fellows.

P.S - 1. I do not endorse smoking in any manner.
2. I also never edit my writings. Please bear with typos etc.

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