Public libraries are closed for every small occasion while private study centers are always open and accessible.
Students are choosing private study centers over public libraries because these provide students with flexible timings (24×7), Wi-Fi facilities, private cabins, the latest versions of books and more to name.
Manjunath, an exam aspirant said, “Most public libraries lack the latest versions of competitive exam books and Wi-Fi facilities.” He also added that previously he used to go to a public library but due to a lack of facilities he got a membership for a private center.
N. Raghavendra Rao, a UPSC exam aspirant who uses a private study center said that public libraries can be used free of cost, but the timings of these libraries are not flexible which became an issue for him.
Recently, the Karnataka State Competitive Examination Aspirants Association (KSCEAA), an organization formed by exam aspirants, asked the state government to make public libraries open 24×7, job-aspirant-friendly, with enough seating and Wi-Fi facilities. The KSCEAA also stated that these students travel to the city early in the morning to prepare for exams and have to wait outside until they open.
Shantharam, owner of S.S.P Study Center, a private study center in Vijayanagar said, “Over the years, students’ demand for more facilities has increased. Most of the students come here to prepare for competitive examinations.” However, using a private study center comes with a membership fee. The membership fee for these study centers can range between Rs 600 – 1000 per month. On the other hand, job aspirants belonging to the economically weaker sections of society are reliant on these free public libraries for their exam preparation.
Professor R Rajesh of the Sociology Department at Bangalore University said, “Each constituency has enough funding to maintain these public libraries, and students from low-income backgrounds will not be able to afford such private libraries.” He also pointed out that public libraries in most rural areas are not properly maintained and public libraries should provide enough seating facilities to accommodate more students.
Ramesh, in-charge of a public library in Vijayanagar said, “We always try to keep the books up to date depending on funds we receive and we are trying to get a Wi-Fi system installed soon.”