This retired teacher in Kollam runs a home library in his ancestral house, lends books for free

self trained librarian
Rajan K, a retired headmaster doubles up as a self trained librarian. Photo: Special Arrangement.

Kollam: An old, single storey house with brick tiled roof at Polikkode near Valakom in Kollam is the most sought after place for book lovers, researchers and students in the neighbourhood.

The owner of the house,Rajan K, a retired headmaster doubles up as a self trained librarian. Over 4000 books are neatly stacked in wooden shelves, occupying an entire room in the house.
For someone who would spend his pocket money on book exhibitions during his college days, there were no second thoughts about converting his ancestral home into a home library.

He began his collection in 1985 as a college student, frequently buying books from local exhibitions with whatever money he had to spare. '' Most of my professors were writers. So I wanted to read their books and started collecting them,'' says Rajan.

The Home library features a vast range of Malayalam books, from novels to poems. Old textbooks, grammar books, law books and periodicals like Sashtrakeralam are most popular and borrowed often. '' I wanted to make sure that books are available to students who may not get them elsewhere,'' he said.

He has ensured that the library has a large collection of resources for school and college level exams, UPSC exams and elocution competitions. Rajan also teaches children in his spare time.
He has also set up a YouTube channel with the help of his children, where he gives Grammar lessons titled Lalitham Vyakaranam. Rajan digs into his savings to run the library.
He also shells out a portion of his pension to buy new books. He doesn't accept any aid also. '' I consider this as an investment for the society,'' he says.

It was during his post graduation days in Trivandrum University College when he began collecting books. '' I was taught by professors who were excellent writers and they would tell us to read their books,'' he recalls. His favourite books are the ones written by his teachers, including Panmana Ramachandran Nair, D Vinayachandran, Desamangalam Ramakrishnan and Naduvattom Gopalakrishnan.

He is most fond of Grammar books but also appreciates writers like C V Raman Pillai, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, T Padmanabhan, M Mukundan, Sugathakumari, O. N. V. Kurup, Edasseri Govindan Nair and Vyloppilly Sreedhara Menon.

He also provides facilities for the students to sit and take notes. The books are lent as references. He has no complaints even when books are not returned. Rajan believes that someone who truly values books and knows their worth will always return them safely. '' I have to get back almost 200 books,'' he laughs, '' But I don't ask for them. Instead I buy the same books again''.

He has bought Jawaharlal Nehru's 'Letters from a Father to his Daughter', his professor P M Joseph,'s textbook 'Parakeeya Padangal', T Bhaskaran's 'Bharatiya Kavya Sastram' and 'Aithihyamala' by Kottarathil Sankunni more than once.

The library is beloved not just to students but to people from all age groups. It is frequented by a mix of youngsters, teachers and his friends who depend on him for books and references.

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