BHOPAL: Study centres for self-study for students, called ‘libraries, in the city are incurring losses due to the Covid pandemic. Many of them are on the verge of closure.
There are around 50 such ‘libraries’ in the city, which provide space and the necessary infrastructure, including chairs, tables, Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, washrooms and clean drinking water to the students, in return for some monthly fee.
Dhananjay Tiwari who is running Manthan Study Library at ISBT building for one-and-a-half years says that the number of students has declined after the pandemic. The library has a seating capacity of 350 students but presently, it can accommodate only around 150 to maintain social distancing. The monthly charge per student is Rs 1,100. It remains open from 7 am to 11 pm on all weekdays. “This is a study centre, not a library. We don’t provide books to students. They bring their own books and study here,” Tiwari says.
Surendra Patel of Study Point Library at Nehru Nagar had opened the centre in November 2019. Lockdown was imposed in March, forcing him to keep it closed for more than seven months, he says. It has reopened in November this year. He pays a rent of Rs 40,000 per month for the place. The charges per student is Rs 700 for six hours and Rs 1,100 for 12 hours. Study Point has a capacity of 80 students but presently only 35-40 students are coming. "Before the pandemic, the number of students was around 70. Most of the libraries are running in a loss. I, too, am thinking of closing down the place. Many of the library owners are ready to sell their set-ups,” Patel says. A large number of students have left the city and gone to their native places and that is why these centres are incurring loss, added Patel.
Chetna, who manages the Divine Library at ISBT, says “The business is down because of the pandemic.” The library earlier used to allot three different time slots to the students. The number of students is down from 150 earlier to around 20-25 now. She, however, is hopeful that the situation would improve.
Vishal Raghuvanshi, the owner of ‘The Best Library' at MP Nagar, Zone-2, says that he has decided to close down the centre because he is unable to pay the rent of Rs 43,000 per month. “I asked the landlord to waive the rent for the lockdown period but he did not agree. The centre was closed for six months and the entire amount of rent was unpaid,” he says.
Raghuvanshi says that before the pandemic, he could earn a profit of around 50,000 per month. He used to charge Rs 800 per month from the students. “We had 380 seats and around 250 students were registered. Now, the number of students is down and I am unable to pay the rent,” he says.