The library has a collection of 1 lakh books on varied subjects, of which 70,000 are in Telugu and 30,000 in English

 

“It is often heard that book readers have declined and the power of books has diminished. This is a wrong notion,” says Lanka Suryanarayana, an Annamayya Library campaigner from Guntur, who is also the treasurer of Annamayya Seva Samithi. Suryanarayana at 80 years of age is a voracious reader and a vociferous campaigner of books and their store-house, the library, which is a temple of knowledge. 

Lanka Suryanarayana (right) The famed Annamayya Grandhalayam

“If books are fading and reading habits of people are dying, then why are book-selling houses thriving and the century experiencing knowledge boom?” the octogenarian asks in defense of his assertion.

 

Interest in spiritual literature hasn't died either. The library houses 800 translations and commentaries on Bhagavad Gita by an equal number of authors and 1,400 translations and commentaries of Ramayanam. If computers are going to replace books why are there  1,200 English dictionaries currently? Despite the advent of electronic media, reading habits of people are not dwindling and books have come to stay. 

 

"A library is a treasure chest of information and the oldest institution in all civilisations," he says.

 Suryanarayana was responsible for collecting the treasure trove of the 1 lakh books. He says that any old book which is missing in other libraries can be found here. Even a 50 years old Times magazine can be found here for reference.

 

“The credit for such a feat of establishing the library goes to Gummadi Radha Krishna, the secretary of the Annamayya Seva Samithi,” says Suryanarayana.

 

The library has 3 lakh paper cuttings of a bygone era, which tell us the story of old. The library also has 99 translations of ‘Geethanjali' authored by Ravindranath Tagore and the noted literary classic 'Where The Mind Is Without Fear'. It also has some 3,000 odd paintings, literary works on music and 50 kinds of old magazines of India and Andhra Pradesh. And the list goes on endlessly, with 6,000 autobiographies of legendry people who made a mark in the society.

 

The library has taken upon itself a gigantic task of computerising all the treasure of literary wealth and has so far computerised 24,000 books. 

 

“The work goes on and on, on a mission mode on a daily basis. Librarians come and go but the library goes on forever. 

 

The only mantle that we can pass on from generation to generation is the book,” says the librarian, as he gets nostalgic of the story of the books.