India’s tribute to Libraries. Festival of Libraries, Aug 5th & 6th 2023, New Delhi

Artists’ Books aus Indien? Bisher können Sie – soweit mir bekannt ist – solche in Deutschland nur an der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek einsehen. Vor einigen Jahren stieß ich auf Priya Pereira, die in Mumbai als Indiens “only book artist” mit Pixie Bks wahrhaft ihrer Berufung nachgeht. Vier ihrer Werke finden sich in unserer Sammlung, und ich freue mich sehr, dass der Blog einmal wieder das internationale Artists’-Books-Netzwerk verdichten kann, indem die Künstlerin hier über das Libraries-Festival in Neu-Delhi berichtet, bei dem sie das Genre Künstlerbuch vertrat, das bislang übrigens an keiner einzigen indischen Bibliothek gesammelt wird. Auf dass sich das ändern möge! (Lilian Landes, BSB)
Artists’ Books from India? So far, as far as I know, you can only see them in Germany at the Bavarian State Library. A few years ago, I came across Priya Pereira, who is truly pursuing her vocation in Mumbai as Indias “only book artist”. Four of her works are in our collection, and I am very pleased that the blog can once again condense the international Artists’-Books network by having the artist report here on the recent Libraries Festival in New Delhi, where she represented the genre of artists’ books, which, by the way, is not yet collected at a single Indian library. May this change! (Lilian Landes, BSB)

Von Priya Pereira

When I first heard about the ‘Festival of Libraries’ a two-day event to be held by the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India, I was only mildly interested. I had no idea what the festival was about. That was till the realization struck, that this could be the national platform to introduce the genre of the artists’ book in the country.

And now, an invitation from Mugdha Sinha, IAS, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture meant so much more. She says, “I believe the Festival of Libraries, for the first time, marked the contribution of these unsung heroes of the country, the Librarians. We initiated this entire movement on the 19th of June, which is celebrated as National Reading and Digital Reading Day, and also to salute the contribution of the Father of the Library Movement – Puthuvayil Narayana Panicker.”

To the artist in me, making the book is the most important thing. What happens after that can never be more. But the reality of life is that what happens after the book is made, is the thing that sustains book-making. And that’s how important libraries are to a book artist. So this event perfectly named as the ‘Festival of Libraries’ would also be Pixie Bks’ tribute to the libraries that have sustained us for 30 years. To this effect, the ‘L Book’ was made specially for the festival carrying pictures of the many libraries who carry our books along with an ode specially written for them.

Of course, the Government has its own plans for libraries. India has 54,856 public libraries. The Culture Ministry through the Raja Ram Mohan Roy Library Foundation (RRRL) promotes public library systems and services in India. The RRRL foundation provides annual funding and support to nearly 6,000-7,000 libraries across the country, as of now.  

The government in 2014 had also launched a special mission called the National Mission on Libraries (NML) with a budget allocation of ₹400 crore. Under the scheme, six libraries under the Culture Ministry, 35 Central libraries in States and 35 district libraries were to be developed as model libraries with an emphasis on developing these libraries in economically backward districts. It also aimed to provide 629 district libraries across the States with digital network connectivity.

Minister of State for Culture and Law and Justice Arjun Ram Meghwal said that the ‘Festival of Libraries’ is a step towards the goal of making India a knowledge superpower of the world in the 21st century.

The two-day festival saw the launch of a ranking system for libraries across India and held exhibitions on allied crafts like cartography, calligraphy and cursive writing besides setting in motion the creation of a crowd-sourced directory of all reasonably large collections of books in the country.

The program highlighted iconic libraries from across the world in order to initiate a conversation on remodeling of libraries in India and discuss a special policy for development of libraries at the village and community levels.

“The festival aims to initiate a dialogue on the modernisation and digitisation of libraries and ignite a resurgence of the reading culture in India. By facilitating advocacy for action-oriented policies, the festival seeks to develop model libraries even at the village and community levels, ensuring that knowledge reaches every nook and corner of the nation,” a senior official in the Union Culture Ministry said.

Inaugurating the festival in the national capital, the President observed that the development of libraries was a measure of the progress of civilisations and history was full of references in which invaders considered it necessary to destroy libraries. She surmised that this shows that libraries have been considered a symbol of the collective consciousness and intellect of a country or society.

In 1993 when Pixie Bks started, we didn’t know what an artists’ book was. That happened only six years later. How many years will it take for artists’ books to be collected by national institutions in India? We will have to do more than just wait for things to happen. Here is our chance to ask for India to have its own Artists’ Book collection like so many national libraries around the world. 

The event was very well attended by Indian and foreign dignitaries, librarians from institutions in India and abroad, classes of school kids with school principals, artists, book and art aficionados and the general public. What is special are the school kids who saw the books and I hope are inspired to make their own. If art institutions in the country look at book arts as a subject, and if institutions buy artists’ books, book arts can be a legitimate profession like painting and photography.

In my time, I have been plain lucky to have a husband (and partner of Pixie Bks) who understood and supported the effort creatively and financially. But to follow a dream, one must also bear the consequences. Making books is my calling, and books have squeezed their way into gaps through years of bringing up children. Today, I am finally free to work to my heart’s content and life is exciting!

Diesen Artikel zitieren: Priya Pereira, “India’s tribute to Libraries. Festival of Libraries, Aug 5th & 6th 2023, New Delhi”, in Kunst zwischen Deckeln, 06. September 2023,

Diesen Blogbeitrag zitieren
redaktionbookarts (2023, 6. September). India’s tribute to Libraries. Festival of Libraries, Aug 5th & 6th 2023, New Delhi. Kunst zwischen Deckeln. Abgerufen am 22. Mai 2024, von

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