The membership profile differs based on the area where the library is located. If Choose and Read draws in students, parents who bring in lunch for their children and those who work in and around the area, 30 per cent of the membership at "Thiagu Book Centre" (TBC) in R. S. Puram is held by children. Professionals also frequent the library.
Set up by P. Thiagarajan in 1982 and having a customer base of about 3,000, TBC boasts a large number of children's books. The owner recalls with nostalgia the days when many of his customers queued up long before he opened the shutters. "The last 10 years have been difficult for us as the reading habit has virtually died down. But, things are improving and more children are walking through our doors." "There has been some kind of awareness about the advantages of reading books and parents have realised the ill-effects of satellite television," he adds.
The library stocks English, Tamil and Hindi books. "North Indians who have settled down here and business visitors borrow Hindi books," the owner says.
Some parents feel bad that their children don't have the time to get introduced to the pleasures of reading. "The workload at school is heavy. My son gets to read books only during the weekend and vacations," says M. Mohana. And, not all children pick comics. "My father advised me against reading comics as the quality of English is not good, "says S. Sujana, a Class VI student of Stanes Matriculation School. She reads for half-an-hour every day and says the experience is both educative and entertaining. "Reading books helps me write my school compositions imaginatively. I read short stories and children's novels and loved Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
Dr. T. V. Ramani Kanth, a surgeon, says he chooses books supported by pictures for it is easier to explain to children.
Sridhar, who has just joined LKG, scouts for books on deities and the epics.