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How does a library function under the pandemic? Here’s how this community library innovated

It’s hard to avoid cliché and hyperbole when writing about the pandemic and all its effects; the ground we stand on has shifted and continues to shift. It will take years for us to develop a new language for the changes we are seeing in all aspects of life: science, health, economy, politics, education, friendship and more.

Those of us who work in the free library movement, which is as much about bringing people together as it is about issuing books, have faced many challenges in the past few months. Here, I’ll talk about what the pandemic has meant to libraries and library members, and what we are learning about the future of reading, thinking and the importance of citizen participation.

The year leading up to the lockdown was a good one for The Community Library Project (TCLP). In our fifth full year, our total membership reached 4,000 and we issued close to 40,000 books. In addition to our first library in Sheikh Sarai, we were running two libraries in Gurugam –one in Sikanderpur and one in Sector 43. We were nearly finished with the construction of a major new branch in South Extension. We ran special programmes every week, ranging from poetry…

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