A library without late fees

Oct 21, 2014, 08:00 IST | Kartiki Nitin Lawate

JustBooks, is a chain of community libraries that allows members to borrow and return books from anywhere in the city

Around five years ago, a team of retail and technology professionals in Bangalore thought of setting up a network of community libraries, which would allow members to borrow and return books from any of the network libraries around the country.

Kids taking part in a drawing workshop

The idea led to the creation of JustBooks CLC, a chain of multi-city community libraries, which recently opened its 11th branch in the city. It allows its members to borrow books, from one JustBooks library and return it to any JustBooks library. The library gives its members, access to over nine lakh books across 39 categories and eight regional languages.
The library uses some of the practices most commonly found in the retail industry to make books available to readers across the country.

A community discussion session in progress at a JustBooks outlet in the city
A community discussion session in progress at a JustBooks outlet in the city

R Sundar Rajan, founder and CEO said, “JustBooks was incubated as a startup at N S Raghavan Centre For Entrepreneurial Learning. — the incubation centre at IIM Bengaluru. The first neighborhood library was started in Whitefield, Bangalore as an experimental venture. It got a great response from residents who signed up as members of the facility and also expressed keen interest in setting up similar libraries in nearby neighbourhoods.

This response from people to both own a neighbourhood library and also sign up as users of the facility, got the JustBooks story started. Soon, JustBooks was conceptualised as a chain of libraries where the front end would be owned by neighbourhood entrepreneurs interested in setting up a library for their neighbourhood while the books, operations and technology-enabled backend would be shared across all libraries.”

Brand manager Kavya Hegde informs that members can borrow and return books from any library of their choice — in their city or across cities. “In addition, every member can access his or her account online, recommend books and even pay his or her membership fees. Members can borrow any number of books during their membership. There are no fines or levies to worry about. It is also leveraging and harnessing the power of the web by offering members to place orders for books online as well as receive them through a company operated door-to-door delivery service,” adds Hegde.

But is there a market for a set-up like this? And why Pune? Rajan informs that there are two things that matter for JustBooks to do well in a city — high level of readership and entrepreneurial interests in starting new businesses. “Pune scores very high on both these counts. From our experience of running libraries in various neighbourhoods in Pune, it is clear that there is a large untapped reader base that is happy to sign-up as members with efficiently run libraries. Besides, the entrepreneurial energy to own a neighborhood business is also high, which helps in our expansion across
neighbourhoods quickly.”

From: 10 am to 9 pm (except Thursday)
At: Shop no 4, ground floor, Palash Plus, Pink City Road, off Kaspati Vasti Road, Wakad.
Call: 65000743/7030474647
Log on to: Justbooksclc.com

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