Growing up in India, Shamita Mahajan did not have a structured library system run by cities or the government. Her world of libraries consisted of small neighborhood libraries on each block, often in someone’s home. She remembers spending a great deal of time at these libraries, each of them a comfortable, inviting setting. She and her friends were inspired to create their own small lending libraries as a version of what American kids might have done putting together a lemonade stand.
Thirty years ago Shamita married Rajiv and they moved to the United States. Here she had her first experience with libraries on a large scale. It was definitely a different experience from that she had growing up.
When she and Rajiv were raising their daughter and son, they utilized many facets of the Johnson County Library. Shamita recalled always having lots of books and videos (the “Arthur” series in particular) at home when the kids were smaller. It was an important value to instill in their kids early on, the love for reading, and now as adults they both have a strong love of books and reading.
While Shamita loves to physically hold a book, Rajiv is an avid reader of eBooks. Working in the information technology field of computer science, once digital books and resources became available, he was hooked.
Both Shamita and Rajiv believe that literacy is vital for children and that libraries offer a healthy space to spend time, engage and come together in a community. Supporting the Library is something near and dear to their hearts. One of their missions is to bring kids back to books and away from screens, video games and social media.
Shamita knows the impact libraries can have on a career path, and she’s working on a second master’s degree in psychology to support others in their academic journeys. She wants to help young people find constructive alternatives through books to counterbalance the various digital distractions.
Shamita concludes, “The more you know, the better choices you can make in life.”
Shamita is a Johnson County Library Foundation board member and she and Rajiv are sponsors of Library Lets Loose, the Foundation’s signature annual fundraiser. Library Lets Loose is on Saturday, September 17 at Central Resource Library in Overland Park.
Johnson County Library – Nurturing the Community’s Collective Wisdom