Sunday, October 07, 2018

Library to a Cultural Centre - A British Council Transformation


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There is something fascinating about books , carrying an unique old world charm , a power to transport you to a different reality, an alternative universe that makes you live with the characters. For some people books are just a hobby to while away their time, but for some it is their passion and share a very close bond with it. I probably may have  spent countless of hours in libraries and bookstores , going over hundreds of books yet never got bored of it.

British Council Library Centre


The last decade however has seen a complete shift in the way books have been consumed. There has been a gradual adaptation of large screen devices , be it 6+ inch mobile phones, iPads and even e-book readers like Kindle. People have begun to prefer to buy an e-book online and read it on the go easily, be it in a car, train or flight. Yes, there are also traditional people like me who would still any day prefer a hardcover book than an e-book.


The digitization of ebooks has impacted a lot of libraries and book stores in India that has struggled to keep up with the pace of technology and modernization. However there are few places that has seen the change coming, evolved into something completely different and at the same time retaining their core values.

One such place is British Council. I'm pretty sure, most people in Chennai with a love of books would have at some point associated with this place. An international organization, British Council was launched in India , exactly 70 years before. Starting as a place meant to promote English education, they setup a major library that stocked thousands of books of every genre. Ranging from fiction, non fiction, management books, comics and even English language books, there was almost everything you could find in a British council library.

The Transformation of British Council


Adapting quickly to the technological demands of the industry, British council has now become a cultural centre, that allows exchange of ideas, networking and a place of learning and cultural activities. In short, a great place for millenials to hang out.


  • The Digital Library of British Council

Being physically present at the venue may not always be easy thanks to tough schedules and work appointments. So instead you can just login to their site and have access to more than 115,000 books and 14,000 journals across a wide range of subject areas.
A wide range of Academic e-books are also available in the same site that offers access to Management, Humanity, Engineering subjects.

This digitization of books and giving access to 30,000 of its members is a major step in embracing change and at the same making resources available in your own device any time anywhere. This step makes sure that though the consumption pattern of reading habits is shifting from physical books to e-books, the habit of reading remains unchanged and would carry on to the future generations as well.

British Council Library Centre
  • Events & Workshops

British Council is not just a place for reading and hanging out , but also a cultural centre for learning. In accordance with it, they conduct a lot of events for students & professionals as well . This include writing & film workshops, thematic events. You can attend film screenings , get your camera skills sharpened at a photography workshop or even understand the world of automation by participating in the robotics workshops.
  • Books & Audio

Books can not only be accessed in the phsyical hardcover versions or the e-readable digital form but also available as an audio file. Similar to a mp3 file , books are also getting converted to an audio book or in some cases as a podcast. So all you gotta do is plugin some headphones, download the audio book or stream the link on to your device and get the file playing.

British Council audio books

The remarkable transformation of British Council at the right juncture is a great indicator for other related institutions to follow suit and become more relevant in the fast paced technological world.

From a library to a cultural learning center, it has set a great example for this industry.

Be a British Council  Member

British Council has some attractive subscription plans and you can find the details here:
https://www.britishcouncil.in/library/prices-and-plans?_ga=2.23200058.1827726854.1499565900-375222978.1499149087

Pricing is as cheap as 2000 INR for an entire year which is lesser than 170/month. This includes borrowing upto 6 books at a time(including best selling novels and international magazines), accessing their digital library and attend all their events on music,education, literature and arts
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