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Library
This is Not a Library
November 30, 2015
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Written by Alia

As the end of November rears its head, I find myself staring desperately at the computer screen, the phrase blog, blog, blog, blog echoing dimly in the recesses of my skull.

Because what does one write about, really? It’s not that there’s nothing to write about- but that too much of significance frequently goes down here at Bookworm- learning, artistry, conversation- alongside the scramble of work and other work.

Maybe this is the crux of the matter. That the work-space can be so many things to so many of us. And to visitors, and to our members, at different points of time.

Even materially, the space that is the Library (the big red half-house) shifts and shuffles on the inside, morphs constantly. There will always be warmth, there will always be colour. There will be the sense that many children were just here, three seconds before you stepped in. But nothing else is fixed.

The tables may be used for accounts, for craft-work, book-making, displays, puppet-shows and just to keep things on. The display boards change. The shelves travel. Posters, paper-bag monsters, doodles, gifted paintings, collage animals, photographs- all go up and down. Various lamps, antique bits of furniture, (currently a hammock), and embroidered quilts appear and disappear. With the jumble sale approaching, even more bizarre objects have started popping up in places. The Meeting Room is the least official space with a profusion of cushions, and mattresses to roll about on. There is a moody whiteboard that falls over now and then, refusing to take notes. There is the Very comfortable bed which is mostly used as a Very big shelf. You will also find posters about reading on all the walls, and Spirit dolls of the Bookworm team members tucked into the corners. Even the beloved inner-Library car, Bindi Su- moves around.

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Then there’s the books. For a place that used to be a Chinese restaurant (Bookworm Trivia), the house that holds us now is overflowing with books. There is the strongest collection of children’s books this side of the Himalayas, there are the (slightly suspect) adults’ books, there are ancient books, new books, books to be covered, books to be bar-coded, teenage books, comic books, outstanding books, books to read in secret, books to brandish in public…and then some more books.

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Even the surfaces take on a slightly surreal quality. Any available surface may be used if you are reading. One frequently finds Bookworm folk on the ground, sprawled out, curled up, scrunched in or arranged in angles- usually intent on stories of one kind or another. The tables, the cushions, the stairs…all belong to the readers. On a good day, one should not be surprised to find a Bookworm person suspended upside down from the ceiling.

Most importantly of all, perhaps, is that the books- which contain and make up the spirit of the place- move out, all over Goa, but also to other unexpected parts of the country. The fact is that – work-wise – all the rush and alertness, the hours of discussion, the painstaking attention to detail, the data collection, the classes, the sessions- all of it centers around spreading stories, enabling reading.

Through LiS and MOP, Bookworm takes this excitement, some of the eccentricity, the sheer elation of story-telling out of the bare confines of a library building. All of this makes it into something more,perhaps. The library program meanwhile attempts to bring in art, poetry, theatre and films into the confines of the library building.

This is not a library. It’s a library Library.

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