Some passengers have accepted the renovated air- conditioned tram library. But others miss the vintage essence of Kolkata trams.
Kolkata: Bibliophiles of Kolkata have mixed reactions to the world’s first tram library, which was introduced on Children’s day. Though some of them welcomed the modern transformation of the tram, others felt the old spirit of Kolkata had disappeared due to these newly renovated trams.
Suhrita Bose, a student of Amity University, Noida, who rode the tram for the first time, liked the new transformation of the trams. “The specialty of this tram is the small library at the back, which has some books, and newspapers too. “I like this new change as the older trams aren’t air-conditioned. I took this tram for the first time, and I enjoyed the experience,” said the student.
The trams travel from Esplanade, the central part of the city and go through College Street, to reach Shyambazar, which is in the north of the city. It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and takes almost one and a half hours to reach the destination. Passengers can get on this tram and read from the library while travelling.
Debasmita Ghosh, a news anchor at Sangbad TV, said she takes this tram often to her office.She praised this new initiative. “I think this tram would keep the heritage of the city alive as we associate our city with trams. In the coming years, we have to get accustomed to these changes.
“That’s why I think this modern transformation of the Kolkata trams is a good decision,” said the news anchor.
There are three different tram libraries, and one is bigger than the other two. The biggest one has a variety of books on one side.Passengers can pick up any book while traveling and pass the time reading. The other two trams have a smaller collection of books and newspapers at the back. All trams have a variety of collections like children’s books, storybooks, and books for competitive exams.
Ajoy Kumar Ghosh, the conductor of the tram, said that passengers mostly consist of college students. “Passengers come in good numbers. Though it varies from day to day, we mostly get high school and college students here,” said Ghosh. He added, even though they don’t maintain a list or keep any records of the library books, there’s always a person with him who looks after the books.
The other two libraries also have a person who looks after the books and keeps an eye on the passengers who borrow them.
Other passengers, however, felt these new air-conditioned trams don’t show the features and spirit of the old city. Somdatta Mondal, who is doing her M.Sc at Burdwan University, said she didn’t find her genre of books in the library.
“I love reading books, but this library doesn’t have a variety of books. Also, the feeling of vintage Kolkata is different and definitely, special. It’s missing from this place,” said Mondal.
Rahul Mukherjee, who works at the GIS Group, agreed. “This tram is luxurious because of the AC and Wi-Fi. I haven’t checked the books at the back as I didn’t find anything special. The old trams do not have these features, which makes them unique,” said Mukherjee.
Udayan Bhattacharya, a professor of the Department of Library and Information Science of Jadavpur University, has welcomed this new initiative. “People nowadays do not have the time to read books. So, any initiative which promotes reading more books, especially in physical forms, is always welcomed.
This initiative will bring the library to the people, and it’s a treat for the book lovers of the city,” said the professor.
Mitali Dasgupta, an assistant librarian of Shri Shikhshayatan College, Kolkata, said that this new change has many advantages for people who love books but do not have the money to buy them. “Many people cannot buy books as they are quite expensive. This would give a chance to booklovers who cannot afford books to read more while traveling,” said the librarian.