In public libraries, borrowers are keepers

State-run brick-and-mortar libraries struggling to stay relevant at a time when people are accessing information on smartphones and e-book readers have another problem on their hands. They are struggling to get the few patrons they have to return borrowed books. Text messages, fines and frantic calls have failed to strike fear among members. In desperation, the Department of Public Libraries has now decided to lodge police complaints against members who fail to return books within the stipulated time. Measures such as keeping a copy of a member’s address proof, contact numbers and even asking for a letter from a gazetted officer to get membership are proving to be futile. “If all else fails, Deputy Directors of the department will issue warning letters to members informing them that a police complaint will be lodged against them if they do not return the books. If even after this they do not comply, we will turn to the police,” said Satish Kumar S. Hosamani, director of the department. Deputy Director Venkatesh C.J., who oversees 313 libraries in Hassan and Bangaluru, said that nearly half the books borrowed are not returned and they are unable to trace many of the members. Often, members submit addresses of their rented homes, but do not update when they move.

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