It is the third visit to Desaposhini Public Library from SPACE, a 75 year old library in the outskirts of the city of Kozhikode, Kerala. This time it was me, Nikhil and Indu. The library is important historically, for it had a major role in the growth of Malayalam theatre. In an age when men donned the role of female characters on stage, Desaposhini Library began staging plays which had women play the female characters. Some of the actors later became successful in cinema as well.
We reached Kozhikode, in the morning by an overnight train. We checked into a hotel- an old one but clean and convenient. While we were having breakfast, Sujeesh, a volunteer for the library, called us and said that there was an issue which he would let us know once we reached the library. When we reached the library Sujeesh said that the party will have to be called off as many volunteers won't be turning up. Unfortunately, it was too late for us to cancel our journey and return. Moreover, a public event to introduce the Web was already announced for the next day in the local media. As going back was impossible we decided to wait. Then we installed WordPress on our server.
Around 11.30 am, five volunteers reached the library. They were part of 14 volunteers whom we had trained on web publishing with WordPress during our previous visit. We started going through the photographs that they have collected and text they wrote. The volunteers had met and interviewed senior members of the library for more information. They started posting the content on a WordPress installation that we had created for them. Then two of them started scanning images from an old album and edit them. We completed posting 75% of the content by end of the day. But everyone was a bit disappointed by the theme of the site. We decided to look into it the next day.
The second day morning we had a public seminar. We gave a small lecture on the evolution of communication, ending it with an introduction to Internet as a media. We also gave some practical information about search engines, their features, online services like Flickr etc. Despite the pouring rain, about 15 people who were teachers, students, retired workers etc had made it to the seminar. Some of them expressed an interest to hold similar seminars in their institutions.
In the afternoon,we had a quick lunch and continued to work on the website. Relevant photos, including that of old plays were scanned, edited and uploaded. We changed the theme, a new header was created and color scheme was set for the site. We added photo galleries, which carry some rare pictures that are relevant for any one interested in the history of Malayalam theatre. Indu setup a timeline of the library's history on the site which they had requested. They then started adding events to the site.
By 7 pm, the site was set up. It was time to celebrate. Unfortunately, we had to catch the evening train back home. We thanked the volunteers for their efforts. When we were about to leave, some of the senior members of the library came to meet us. “How can we see the work, if you leave?”, they asked. Smiling, we gave them them the address of the library's site. It was fun watching the look of surprise on their faces-”the site is real and online!”, “We didn't think it would happen so easily” were some of their excited remarks. They came with us till the end of the village road where we said our good byes.