Aizawl: After hitting the headlines for being branded as a ‘no-honking city’, the capital town of a Northeastern state has yet again won the hearts of Internet for its ‘Little Free Libraries’ or ‘mini libraries’ being installed on roadsides across the city.
Yes, this is none other than Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram in Northeast India.
At a time when most people are running after avarice, the world is fortunate to have generous and kind-hearted people like these academicians and scribes, who wanted to help the community and give their best service to society for no personal gains.
It did not take long for Dr C Lawmzuala, a professional assistant at Mizoram University’s central library, and Dr Lallaisangzuali, a deputy librarian at the central library, to realise the need for and take up the challenge of installing non-profit mini roadside libraries in Aizawl after their official trip to the US in 2016 and 2017.
The dream of setting up mini roadside libraries similar to those seen in the US had haunted the two ever since they came across such setups in Ohio and other parts of the country.
They turned their dreams into reality in a year and the chain reaction was very positive as at least two more mini roadside libraries came up in the city a year later.
The response from the public, especially students, motivated a college authority to set up three more mini libraries for public use this year.
Lawmzuala and Lallaisangzuali have installed two mini roadside libraries, which they called ‘Little Free Libraries’ — one at Aizawl market and the other at Mizoram University campus in 2017 — which were a replica of the ones seen in the US.
They were the first to start the project in Mizoram.
“After we came across the Little Free Library during out trip to the US in 2016 and 2017, we thought of installing the same in Aizawl. Initially we were skeptical and nervous at the thought of the project inapplicable to the Mizo society. But later we decided to give it a try,” Lawmzuala told EastMojo.
He said that they installed the two mini roadside libraries with initial donation of 20 books each and with the sole objective to inculcate the habit of reading in people.
“Our purpose was to promote reading habit among youngsters especially the students and test the credibility of the Mizo moral values. Beyond our expectation, the libraries received good response winning hearts of netizens and in some way they become an epitome of Mizo moral ethic of generosity and honesty,” he said.
The tiny roadside libraries are a unique concept of spreading wisdom where people read and take books for free. They have no security to keep a check on them but simple rule that reads “take a book, leave a book.”
People not only read and take books but also donate them.
“I am fully aware that the Mizo society is a well-regimented, disciplined and honest society. I am confident that the free little libraries will work among the Mizos,” Lalhruaitluanga Chawngte, who set up his own non-profit mini roadside libraries near his residence at Aizawl’s Mission Vengthlang, said.
Chawngte is a writer and journalist associated with the leading local vernacular paper, The Aizawl Post.
He has authoured at least two books and his book titled Aizawl ah Aizawler has won the Mizo Academy of Letter’s book of the year in 2016, which is the highest literary award in the state.
Chawngte installed a Free Little Library attached to a wall on November 4, 2019 in memory of his late father Rev C Lianhmingthanga, who died in 2017.
“I want to contribute to society by promoting reading habits among my people. My father as well as I were book warmers. So I thought of installing a mini roadside library so that at least one or two can read books for free as I could not afford big libraries,” he said.
He said the mini libraries received positive response from the public and some of them have begun loving books after the installation.
Walking in the line of the US, an assistant professor and a librarian of a state’s reputed college also installed a Little Free Library in the college campus.
“Due to the strong response from public, especially students, we have planned to open three more mini libraries for public use,” Dr Lalthanmawii Sailo, an assistant librarian at Pachhunga University College (PUC), who started the mini free library with H Laldinmawia at the college campus, told this correspondent.
The mini library installed by Sailo and Laldinmawia, who is an assistant professor in the Mizo department, was opened by Champhai constituency MLA ZR Thiamsanga on November 15 last year.
Laldinmawia said that the MLA was impressed by the mini library and donated Rs 25,000 for new installations.
He said that the mini free library was started with books donated by generous people.