Radhamani KP who works at Prathiba Public Library in Wayanad, Kerala has been serving as a ‘walking librarian’ for over nearly eight years. She not only works on weekdays but also on every Sundays.
‘Walking Librarian’ of Kerala
Radhamani, who is a 64-years-old walk over four kilometres every day to deliver books.
And her work was not stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic. Initial days of COVID-19, people rushed to Radhamani’s home to borrow books.
At present, there are 102 library members, 94 of which are women.
“They weren’t so keen on reading library books at first. Women had weekly magazines like Mangalam and Manorama to read and did not want anything else. But the novels started to intrigue them slowly and after that the travelogues, etc. I get feedback from some of them now, and I put those books aside for later reading,” she said to TNM.
With the initiative of the Kerala State Library Council to take books to women at home to enable them to read, the role of walking librarian started.
The initiative was named as Vanitha Vayana Paddathi (Women’s Reading Project) and, now it is Vanitha Vayojaka Pusthaka Vitharana Paddithi (Book Distribution Project for Women and Elderly).
In 2012, when another walking librarian before her had to quit, she picked up the role. Before that, however, Radhamani used to go to the library frequently.
It started with interactions with Mahila Samajam, a community of women that Radhamani was part of. She started reading books until it was a routine.
Even as a kid, she enjoyed reading. Her father was a farmer, was not an educated person, and she would read snippets of the newspaper to him. She had a habit of reading before when went to sleep.
Now, she delivers 500 books every month by walking kilometres.
From Printing Press To Being a Librarian
Back then, she did not often go to the library. First, at the printing press, Radhamani found herself a job and then worked for over 24 years as a Balavadi teacher.
She was coaching tribal preschool children, it was under the Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme for the Children.
Radhamani kept herself occupied with a variety of other duties even as she entered the library.
‘Walking Librarian’ of Kerala, Radhamani joined Kudumbashree, Kerala’s initiative for eradicating poverty and empowering women.
She also took up a position with the Department of Tourism as a guide and learned to speak French and English. As a guide, she treks up the hills.
She finds it a bit hard to carry a lot of books. So she reduced to bringing around 25 books at a time, which was 50 books before.