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B.S. Kesavan

By K. Umapathy Setty
Vikas, New Delhi, 1976, 111, 35.00

VOLUME I NUMBER 3 July - September 1976

It is not a ‘scholarly’ book. It is not a ‘profound’ book. But it is a book which makes you want to meet the writer and talk to him. It has a pleasant, straight-from-the-shoulder manner, and the rat-tat-­tat of the sentences, without nagging you, holds your interest. What is more, the down-to-earth locales which are the several contexts to the prob­lems discussed, along with the accompanying indi­vidual names (fanciful coinages, I am sure), invests every little essay with pragmatic value. It is a rather unusual kind of book and is most welcome for its freshness and total lack of pretensions. And one is surprised to see Vikas publishing it, in the perspective of its rather stodgy and pretentious pre­vious titles in this field! The dust-cover design and the make-up of the book conforms to the good standards one is led to expect from such a publi­sher. And the price of it, a mere 35 rupees(!) for just a hundred-and-ten pages of octavo format. What is the book about? It deals with everyday problems in the life of a working librarian: Should a public library provide college text-books; should a librarian side with a cause; should a university librarian be the head of the department of library science; is it a good practice to order books through a cooperative society? and so on, to mention only a few of the twenty-three problems he has dealt with. The most refreshing thing about this little book is the way the problems get stated: without fuss, directly and without any acerbity. The procedure is somewhat Socratic. No readymade answers are vouchsafed, but the core of the problem is laid bare. My favourite essay is the one about accepting favours from booksellers. Coming on the heels of a conversation I had with a reputed publisher (who is also a bookseller) who told me how a certain important librarian dropped brick-like 'hints' that a massive order would come the publisher's way if only he would persuade his publishing arm to print a stodgy effusion of his, this piece is most precious! Khatija Begum, a librarian in Gujarat is about to leave for the All-India Library Conference at Delhi and, a bookseller, hearing of this, telephones her. Just listen to the conversation: Sondhi: Madam, I am very happy to know you will be leaving for Delhi to participate in the proceedings of the ...

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