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When buying books in today’s world is just a click away with so many options at our disposal, would you want to buy it from a mobile bookstore? Well, your doubts will be put to rest after reading about Santosh and Swaranjali Karale – who run a mobile book van called ‘Swaraj books’.

Santosh Karale, a resident of Thane came up with an idea of setting up a book exhibition while he was working with a publisher in 2006. Karale felt that more must be done in the field of imparting knowledge and started organising an exhibition, which eventually led him to start an ‘on the move’ library in 2009.

Speaking to ThaneMirror, Karale said, “For the first three years, I organised exhibitions in the verandahs of New English High School in Thane, and that was a learning period for me to understand people’s tastes in books. Later, I realised that people do love to read but are falling short of time due to their busy schedule. I wanted to reach-out to more people and therefore, I decided to start a mobile library – ‘Swaraj Books’.”

The Swaraj library has a wide range of books on varied topics, language and genre, with its entire stock of 4,500 books neatly displayed in a van, which moves from one locality to another.

“To reach out to masses, we make sure that all core areas of the city are covered. Every day, we place our mobile van for nearly six hours at different locations that includes – Vijaynagiri, Balkum, Dhokali, Thane railway station, Kalwa railway station, Ram Maruti road, Airoli among others,” said Karale.

Karale’s experiment of starting a mobile van became a big hit in a short span of time as book lovers thronged his mobile book van out of choice and some out of chance.

swaraj library 3-min

Santosh Karale’s wife Swaranjali, who works in a school in Airoli, leaves no stone unturned to help her husband in pursuing his passion.

She said, “Books on Vvyaktimatva Vikas (personality development) are particularly in demand, while books translated in Marathi language are also available. Books of both in English and Marathi language on various topics are delivered at a nominal amount for purchases above Rs. 200.”

The couple manage the moving exhibition and library by themselves and prefer not to employ any staff. Santosh drives the van while wife Swaranjali helps him in settling and setting up the nomadic book store in all other possible ways.

‘If people cannot come to us, then why not go to them? If people are busy, we will reach out to the people,’ is the mantra of the Karales.

If you see Karale’s on the wheel library, do pay a visit.

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