Libraries are only next in importance to schools, colleges and universities as means of educating the public. A library is a store-house of books-books of all kinds and on all subjects under the sun. A good modern library usually subscribes to practically all the important newspapers and periodicals. Books, newspapers and periodicals are the main features of a library and they represent the endeavours, achievements and glory of writers, statesmen, scientists, philosophers and saints.
For a person of average means it is difficult to purchase more than one or two daily newspapers, but it is the keen desire of educated people to know all possible shades of opinion as expressed in various newspapers. The obvious course for them is to visit a library during their leisure and glance through the relevant pages of many newspapers which they think are worth the trouble. Generally a person does not subscribe to more than one or two magazines or periodicals and yet in these days of abundant supply of illustrated and pictorial journals most of us would like to have a look at the most attractive and interesting among them.
This can be done only in a library which usually subscribes to most of the popular magazines. The best feature of a library is that it either makes no charge upon the readers or collects a negligible membership fee for making available to them newspapers and journals. This fact is immensely helpful to the ill-paid and poor members of society who, notwithstanding their poverty, are interested in the political, social and religious developments reported by newspapers. To those who are vociferous book readers, a library is all the more useful.
Only a very rich man can afford to have a large private collection of books, while the desire to read books is now- a-days becoming more and more common. Besides, no private collection can be as big, up-to-date, and varied as the collection of books in a library; one can find books on history, economics politics, philosophy, physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, literature, and languages. As the needs of various readers are different, a library serves a very useful purpose by meeting the requirements of all readers.
The poorest man can go to a library, take out any book he needs and read or take notes from it without having to pay for the privilege. In this way, a single library benefits thousands of readers. Again, some books are priced so high that they are beyond the means of average reader, but they are usually to be found in a library. It is evident that a library confers incalculable advantages on the public only if they care to make use of it. A library has always a studious atmosphere. As we enter a library, we find ourselves surrounded by books and readers.
We see books of all kinds and sizes reposing in their respective places, and earnest readers eagerly devouring the contents of the books they have picked up from the shelves. What is more, all possible facilities are provided to the readers. Comfortable chairs with tables in front, adequate lighting arrangements, and a librarian to help and guide the reader all these factors make the place a veritable sanctuary fit for even the most serious and zealous students. A library is even more useful to research students.
A research scholar working on a difficult, obscure subject usually needs books that are very expensive and that are often not available in the market. Sometimes he may need to refer to original manuscripts not otherwise available. In all such cases he will find it very advantageous to visit the various libraries and collect his material. It is a stimulus to reading. It helps us develop a reading habit. Since its gates are open to all and sundry, to rich and poor, to professors and students, to scholars and lay-a-taste in books.
In short, a library is a standing invitation to the public to come and read books as well as newspapers and periodicals. There is a wide choice of books and the library helps us to escape from the practical necessities of this world. And while there is a charge for traveling m a bus, for entering a cinema or a circus, for seeing a cricket match, there is no such charge for entering a library and becoming engrossed in a book.