Last week, we stumbled upon a Facebook post where author Jerry Pinto spoke about donating books to a community library initiative called R and R in Lallubhai Compound in Mankhurd. While we were clueless about Lallubhai Compound, Mankhurd helped us draw up a reference point.
The library space at R and R
Mankhurd is where you alight to reach the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. Sadly, it is also one of the few areas in Mumbai with low literacy rates. In fact, a Tata Institute of Social Science’s report in 2015 found that nearly half (46 per cent) of three to five-year-old children in the area don’t attend a primary school while 30 per cent of the women are illiterate. Lallubhai Compound comprises of highly congested buildings and shanties where slum-dwellers have been rehabilitated over the years by various rehabilitation and resettlement programmes of the government. All of this makes R and R’s community library even more important.
Kathabitha with Shashikant Sawant
But a library needs books, and R and R isn’t any different. The project has already sent out requests calling for donations of books, journals, children’s literature and magazines, in multiple languages. So far it has collected more than 150 books, but needs more. “Book lovers have responded generously to our call for contributions towards the library. We are receiving a range of interesting books including fiction, historical accounts and even rare Marathi editions of Phantom comics,” says Gitanjali Dang of Khanabadosh.
Started in 2016, R and R is a joint effort by CAMP (Ashok Sukumaran, Shaina Anand, Simpreet Singh and Zinnia Ambapardiwala), Khanabadosh (Gitanjali Dang), Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty. It is initiated as part of a year-long project called Draft (a collaboration between Khanabadosh and Zurich University of the Arts). The centre launched its first exhibition, titled Letter Opening, in May. “We came here to create a space or a situation where we could initiate and participate in conversations with the local community. The library happened to be one of the many verticals that emerged out of it,” informs Dang. But one that is crucial.
Lallubhai Compound includes people from various communities, and therefore, the library will be storing books from multiple languages. As for English classics, the community space has started a fortnightly event called Kathabitha, where Shashikant Sawant hosts live translations for children. The library is not just about books and magazines, though. “With people’s history as our broad focus, we imagine the library as an expanded presence that is also open to toys, artworks and other objects,” says Dang.
To contribute: Books, magazine and others
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