Dubai resident M. N. Vivekanandan with his ‘Share ‘n’ Care Library in his home.
Dubai: If you’re a student based in the UAE and looking for books to rent, Dubai resident M. N. Vivekanandan has initiated an easy way to do so. The 16-year-old student has a collection of over 1,000 books in his home’s ‘Share ‘n’ Care Library’.
He told Gulf News: “In 2013, I had a chance to hear late Dr Abdul Kalam, former Indian president, speak at the Sharjah International Book Fair. He insisted that every home should have a library of its own. He inspired me to start my own library to serve the community.”
He has been collecting books since the age of 10 and his friends in the neighbourhood used to borrow them. But, on November 2, 2014, he initiated a system wherein people from all around the country could rent out books at no cost.
He said: “The information about the library spread through word of mouth initially. I then designed a website and Facebook page, in which I listed all the books and e-books available. More people started to inquire about the library and donations started to pour in as people did what they could to watch the library grow. My parents and I do our best in receiving the children and maintaining the ledger. There is no holiday for the library and it works from 6am to 10pm.”
The library has books such as “reference, fiction, non fiction, teenage fiction, short stories, computer-related, cookery, religious, literature, art, comics and general knowledge”.
Apart from lending books, Vivekanandan also raises awareness on water and electricity conservation and hosts reading and writing quizzes. He also initiated a charity drive to collect used stationery items and donate them to orphanages in India. This year, he plans to collect educational toys and games, scanners and computers for charity.
We asked Vivekanandan some questions about his passion for reading.
Q: What inspired you to start reading books?
My interest in knowing more about the world from a very young age made me look to books as a source of knowledge.
Q: How do you think reading helps people?
Reading furnishes relaxation to the mind and soul. It registers knowledge and information to the brain and increases vocabulary and spelling. It improves the thinking process and is a skill, which improves with practice. It is perhaps the most valuable habit that a person can possess, so it needs to be acquired when one is young. Books are interesting companions if we know how to use them. They offer us opportunities for a welcome escape from the monotony of routine life.
Q: Why do you read?
Reading is one of my pastimes and I read whenever I can. I believe it is a way to enter a new world that the author imagines or a way to see what happens elsewhere in the world.
Q: How can people be encouraged to read?
One way to encourage reading is to start with humorous yet meaningful stories. #UAEReads is an initiative that stresses the importance and benefits of reading. This is a very innovative way to capture everyone to read books. By spreading it on social media, it ensures a greater participation of the people in achieving the goals set.
Q: What genre of books are your favourite?
Fiction is my favourite genre. It puts imagination into the real world and conveys meaning without actually offending or pointing at anyone. Though fictional stories aren’t true, they manage to affect our lives in ways we have not imagined.
Q: Your favourite author?
The one thing about my childhood that I remember are the stories by Enid Blyton. Younger readers might find her fantasy stories about pixies, gnomes and fairies more appealing to convey certain moral messages. Her detective or boarding school stories may be more interesting for older readers. It is filled with complex character plots but still has enough fun, adventure and excitement, the perfect ingredients to keep children going on book after book.
Q: One book that you think everyone should read?
The Story of my Life by Helen Keller. It is written by a blind and deaf person and talks about the hurdles she faced in her life to show herself as capable to anyone else. This shows the values of optimism, determination and perseverance of a person.”
If anyone wishes to donate books to Vivekanandan’s library, they can contact him at [email protected] or visit the official Facebook page, “Share-N-Care-Library”.
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