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IIn the buzzing megalopolis of Pune as the cacophony of traffic swirls on Fergusson Road, the British Council Library stands etched like a lighthouse in the seas of flux. Immaculately turned out head librarian, Ms. Anil Bakshi; Anil to all her staff and fiends! Reminiscing about her foray into the world of library science with a background of English Literature, she says, "Library science was a fascinating subject and a job in a library seemed a very attractive proposition, apart from being a popular profession. Working in BCL for a quarter of a century has given me the opportunity to works with professionals, to travel extensively and to work in a very conducive atmosphere. I believe in professionalism and empathy in interacting with the staff, wherein we work as a team, sharing our moments of triumph and brickbats together."The BCL evolved from a small office in Delhi with a limited number of books originating with an exhibition of books by the late Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. In Pune, the city of Peshwas, the first tremulous stirrings of the tiny chrysalis of the BCL were witnessed by the Puneites in the formof a lending library on the premises of Ranade Institute in 1968,with a contingent of three thousand members on a fee of Rs.5/-. Sounds incredible, but true! 

Anil picks up the thread of the conversation as she informs, "We are alert to the growing need and tastes of the discerning reader and our polices are designed to help us remain in tune with the times. Our readers in the city have always whole-heartedly participated in all our activities, thereby motivating us to function as one of the top five BCL libraries in the world! The most important factors responsible for this are; our very friendly staff, togther with a stock of the latest books and total computerisation.There is a slight movement in the doorway as the tall and affable Ashok Muzumdar (the name almost synonymous with the BCL) stands framed, "It was Provedence that proppled me to take up the library science course from Pune University and join the BCL twenty-five years ago. At the time our main activity was lending books and providing information on educational courses. Under the tutelage of David Spiller, an authority on book selection, the first staff training courses were held, followed by the refresher courses, with the focus on the IT qualifications and communication skills. As a deputy librarian, I find my work extremely challenging and fulfilling when our end-results are satisfying, coupled with a lot of appreciation for each and every staff member in our BCL family. We have recently introduced Internet Services and developed a full-fledged educational counselling service with counsellors who council on careers and courses in the UK University(three hundred) in all, along with the prestigious Business English Certificate (BEC) examinations of all three levels, so as to facilitate students and others aspirings for a stint abroad anywhere in the world.

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Surrounded in her den by eager beavers- students and many more, Savitry Iyer, the deputy librarians sits unruffled on her perch, answering queries in her quiet confident manner. "I enjoy meeting people especially providing information to students aspiring for higher studies in the UK. The yearly BCL publication of study in Britain about scholarship and fellowships is a very useful guide for the students appearing for the English Language Proficiency test. For Savtry, like the famed 'Pied Pipers of Hamelin' with her loyal troopers milling around her, this is what makes her trick. She further elaborates, "The present scenario in the library is no longer traditional and a lot of interaction with the staff is required. Administering exams such as BEC (all three levels) and the IELTS and organising a Book Fair entails a lot of resourcefulness and poses a challenge. No customer grievances are allowed to grow into a complaint, and we foresee as a need, the service of a Neuro-Linguistic Programming expert (NLP), to counsel on improving one's lifestyle. "Having done a couple of refresher courses in Manchester, this young lady is raring to try out the methods to ensure hundred percent customer satisfaction.In htis 50th golden jubilee year of the celebrations, a BCL veteran Vasudev Parkhi, library assistant joining the fledging library three decades ago, nostalgically recollects, "I was fortunate to work with all the four head librarians to-date. All through the years, the management has changed from to the traditional to the professional. We have a very effective support system not stifeled red tapisim and the freedom to go about our duties without interference from the top, as long as the results are excellent. Suggestions from our readers is of outmost importance, as also feedback, both critical and appreciative. Five to six meetings with various focus groups are arranged so that there is a healthy interaction between our readers and us. Handling the public relations job here enables me to reach out to people informally beyond the realm of office, constantly keeping in touch with even our members in a true spirit of bonhomie, "states Parkhi in a crisp, well-modulated voice.
For the BCL Pune website please click here

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