The role of libraries in getting to know a city

Online Program

Date: Aug 12, 2020
Time: 11:00 am - 12:30 pm IST
Venue: Zoom


Join us for a Panel discussion in Tamil on National Library Day, August 12 to discuss and understand the role of libraries and how they play a pivotal role in getting to know a city. 

The panelists are from libraries that address different audiences and themes. We have Ajayan Bala from Balu Mahendra Library, Mini N from Dulkal Library, Murugan Manthiram from Koogai Library and Sundar Ganesan from Roja Muthiah Research Library. 

This session will be moderated by Thirupurasundari Sevvel, Architect, Urban planner and Secretary at Madras Literary Society, heading the Heritage management and conservation initiatives.



Moderator: Thirupurasundari Sevvel, Madras Literary Society

To join the discussion- 


Tentative structure of the program:

A) Intent of library 

B) How libraries can be holistic spaces 

C) Library as a space/ place 

D) City and the Libraries

E) Documenting archives through photography

F) Photography based books 

G) Photobooks and children


Ajayan Bala | Writer, Director

Ajayan Bala is a writer, actor and film director. He made his directorial debut in 2018 with the Tamil film 'Aaru Athiyayam' (6 Chapters).  He has written dialogues for films like Vanayutham, Chennayil Oru Naal and Manithan. He has written screenplays for many films including Madarasapattinam, Deiva Thirumagal, Thalaiva, Thandavam, Vettai. He has also acted in films including Chithram Pesuthadi, Madarasapattinam, Southwest Monsoon, Valmiki Krishnaveni Panchalai and Vanamagan.

Balumahendra Library

Reading books is what makes one a good director and a cinematographer. The Balumahendra Library came into existence with the dream of producing world-class works for the development of Tamil cinema. 

The library is registered under the Tamil Movie Database and Research Association which, is run by the State government. 

The library is named after the late Director and our mentor Balu Mahendra and is in operation since 2018. 

Mini N | Treasurer, Dulkal

Mini N is a graduate in psychology and post graduate in criminology. She loves to work with children and vulnerable people who are becoming victims of persecutors. She strongly believes in education as a tool for doing so. She is a Treasurer at Dulkal library. 


Dulkal Library

Abdul Kalam?s vision 2020 was to make India a developed nation by enhancing the livelihood of the villages, DULKAL - dul the last three letters from his first name and kal the first three letters from his last name was formed by a group of youngsters.


Our objective is to set up a network of libraries at the government schools of remote villages, tribal areas and communities, to engage children in skill-based activities for holistic development sustainably and to sensitize people and spread awareness on the issues that concern the society and nation. Dulkal library is one of our initiatives and our main aim is to set up libraries in places where holistic development is needed. We choose books according to the children's needs, age groups, language, and areas of interest.


Murugan Manthiram | Filmmaker, Lyricist, Journalist 

Murugan Manthiram has worked as a lyricist for more than 50 films and as a dialogue writer in two movies. He has also written screenplays and worked as an associate director and assistant director in many films. He has been a journalist for over ten years. 


He has published two books ????? ?????? ????????????( Tamil Cinema Reviews), and ??? ??? ????, ??? ???? ?????? (One King, One Crore Stories).


Koogai Library

Koogai library is part of the Koogai Thiraipada Iyakkam initiative. It is a place where assistant directors can sit and talk and learn about the world through reading, a place to read without the hassle of sounds. It is located in Valasravakkam, Chennai and has over 6000 books. The library is air-conditioned and nestled inside a quiet area where one can read without any disturbance.It is open to the public, 9 am to 9 pm daily. The entry for the library is free and has over 100 visitors dropping by daily.

Sundar Ganesan | Director, RMRL - @sundargee457

Sundar Ganesan is a trained archivist. He has been working with the Roja Muthiah Research Library since its inception in 1994. A number of preservation projects have been handled by him, e.g., National Endowment for Humanities, Wellcome Institute for the History of Understanding Medicine, Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation and Endangered Archives Programme. He trained several archivists from all over India. He has been a consultant to UNESCO; Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta, Kolkata; Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya, Nepal; Satyajit Ray Foundation, Kolkata; and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He is the author of the book "The Tall Man: Biju Patnaik". He has also written several articles.  He is currently the Director of the Roja Muthiah Research Library. 


Roja Muthiah Research Library - @rmrlchennai

The Roja Muthiah Research Library (RMRL) was founded in 1994 to preserve, catalogue, and expand the collection of Roja Muthiah Chettiyar, a private collector who put together one of the world?s finest private libraries of Tamil publications during his lifetime. Located in Chennai, RMRL currently houses one of the most unique collections of Tamil imprints in South Asia. Some of the publications date from the latter part of the eighteenth century. With a collection of 4,00,000 items, RMRL provides research materials and facilities for research scholars of Tamil studies in a variety of fields spanning the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Most of the publications date from the latter half of the nineteenth and the twentieth century.


Thirupurasundari Sevvel | Secretary, MLS - @tssevvel

Thirupurasundari Sevvel is an Architect and Urban Planner trained in India, UK and France. She runs ?Studio Conclave?, an architectural consultancy and ?Nam Veedu Nam Oor Nam Kadhai?, an initiative that stems from her passion for storytelling, heritage, history and education. For her platform Thirupurasundari curates stories, exhibitions, workshops   on social issues, heritage, household heritage, personal/ social history etc  and uses her expertise as material restorer and conversationalist to document traditional techniques and practices of design. This feeds into her consultancy projects for NGO?s, schools and colleges which frequently focus on the planning and building of inclusive, accessible and safe spaces in the city for all.

She predominantly works with artisans working on traditional materials and techniques, about works on the livelihood sustenance.


She has been a volunteer at the Madras Literary Society from 2013 and since 2017; she is the Secretary, heading the Heritage management and conservation initiatives there. 

Madras Literary Society - @mls_1812

The Madras Literary Society was founded in 1812. The collection of approximately 55,000 books spans two centuries, and includes books on Religion and Philosophy, Literature, Travels, History, Geography, Biography, Art, and Fiction. The titles presently carried, are predominantly in English though works in other classical and modern languages are also held.


Through the library project MLS Saturdays, adoptive book program and being a part of literary events. MLS has been become a place for literary discussions and significant amount of books has been restored and more than 75+ events have happened and we recently started a children section and Tamil section as well.

The MLS is probably the oldest surviving library in India today, in its core function as a lending library.

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