Meet the walking librarian who has delivered books on foot for 41 yrs

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For the past 41 years, P Sukumaran has been a walking librarian. Every day, he visits at least 35 homes to present books to women and children.

For the past 41 years, one guy in Karuvatta, Alappuzha, Kerala, has walked 12 kilometers from house to house every day. His only companions are two suitcases containing 60-70 books and a packed lunch from home. P Sukumaran, 61, is a ‘walking librarian’ who visits approximately 35 families in the Karuvatta and Kumarapuram grama panchayats to provide books to women and children.

P Sukumaran started working as librarian for the Kumarapuram Public Library in his early twenties, in 1979.

“I adore books,” says P Sukumaran, “and I get happiness in them.”

According to P Sukumaran, “I enjoy walking and delivering books and magazines to readers since I am a book lover.

On my trip, for example, I get to experience nature and vegetation.

Also, I am a person who enjoys talking about what I have read, and visiting other homes allows me to communicate with and share this information with others, particularly youngsters “Sukumaran, who holds a Bachelor of Economics from SD College in Alappuzha, says

This public library, which opened in 1950 and is housed in a modest two-room facility, was previously regarded as one of the best in the area, but has been in decline for some time due to a declining number of visitors.

Sukumaran chose to introduce the project of walking and reaching out to readers by delivering books at that time. It all started when Sukumaran thought about making the library accessible to the pubc as the library and the public need each other. Sukumaran walks about 12 kilometers every day from Monday to Saturday.

He begins his day by heading to the library at 8.30 a.m., and he departs at 10.30 a.m. to begin distributing books. He brings his lunch with him and returns to the library at 4 p.m.

Sukumaran’s objective, he says, is to instill the importance of literature and the habit of reading. “I am an avid reader who began reading at a young age. Reading, in my opinion, makes you wiser, helps you comprehend the world better, and makes you a better person.”

So, as an aware human being, Sukumaran is on a mission to do what he can.”

Sukumaran’s efforts to reach out to his readers have helped the library thrive through many difficult periods, he adds, and the number of library subscriptions has climbed ever since. Sukumaran’s readers are mostly children and women. He visits each home not only to provide books, but also to interact with the residents. Sukumaran says, he not just goes to these houses to deliver books, but also spends a lot of time communicating with readers and talking about the books. He reads all of the books he lends out and claims to try to match the reader with a content that will appeal to them.

Life has always been tough for Sukumaran, who has been living in a rented property with his wife and 12-year-old autistic son for the past 15 years. As a librarian, he survives on a meager monthly salary of Rs 3,100 from the Kerala State Library Council and a 30% commission on book sales.

In spite of the meagre salary, Sukumaran says, “My work is something I am very enthusiastic about. My daily walks and contact with readers allow me to forget about all of my personal problems, which makes me happy.”



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