Two days ago I visited the British Council Library after a long time. During our post graduation, BC (as we used to fondly call the Library)was a regular hang out. All of us in the class would plan and choose the topics for which we wanted books for and make a trip. Since the place was quite far from our College, it was a long journey but then we were a gang of many so we happily went to BC. The journey was interspersed with comic anecdotes, stories of our quirky profs, a recap of the books we wanted and assignments for which the deadlines were fast approaching. That was the nostalgic bit which never ceases to tire me.
Present: I was shocked to see BC totally revamped. The spacious library has shrunk in space and of course the number of books have reduced. The management section has grown considerably unlike the literature one which does not boast of many books. I often found myself stepping aside for a person to pass by and this takes up the precious time and also disrupts the process of looking for a book. And the most disappointing aspect of BC was the absence of people sitting in the counters and telling us politely that the books were overdue or the time for returning the books. Now a shiny card does everything. One has to swipe the cards for renewal or return. First it was the ATMs which shut out human contact and now even the libraries follow suit.
It used to be a great relief to see the polite staff behind the desks smile at us and provide the necessary details about the books. I say relief as it was a welcome break from looking at the books for a longer period. If we were regulars at the Library then the 'familiarity' smile that would greet us was lovely indeed! Now there is nothing like that. BC has many value added services that has occupied the space meant for books. The corporate ambiance screams loud at every corner of the place making people like me restless and listless.
I am glad that the American Library (USIS) in Cathedral Road in spite of every hype remains the same where the books as well as the staff are friendly as ever. The icing in the cake is that I also get the 'familiarity' smile as I enter the Library.