With food crisis and rising prices at the centre of global attention, books on the burning issue are suddenly arousing interest in Members of Parliament.
"The recent months have seen an increased demand for books on food security, food scarcity, crude oil market, biofuel and related matters from the members," a senior official of the Parliament Library says.
As debates and agitation on the issue of spiralling prices of essential commodities corner attention, the research and reference division of the library has come out with supporting material for MPs, bringing out background notes on price rise and global oil prices.
"It has been our practice to prepare notes on recent issues to help the members secure enough background information which will help them in deliberations and debates inside the House. We also try to foresee the future events and issues, which may be of interest to the MPs and gather relevant data to bring out booklets," the official says.
Though the general trend among the MPs has been to seek information on burning issues, books on history, politics and biographies of national and international leaders are always in much demand.
Same is the case with any book that has turned out to be controversial and is a subject of debate in the media.
"Sometimes, we need to order more copies of such books to keep up with the demand," he says.
The sprawling 55,000-sq m library, India's [ Images ] second largest after the National Library, Kolkata [ Images ], at present has over 1.27 million volumes of printed books, reports, government publications, UN reports, gazettes and other documents.
However, despite the availability of a huge amount of material, reading habit among MPs is on a decline, officials say and attribute it to the easy access to information through Internet.
"In earlier days, there were members like Madhu Dandvate and Chitta Basu who used to visit the library and do a lot of homework before raising any issue on the House. Nowadays, with information being available on a fingertip, MPs do not need to study that much," says the official.
Some among the suave new generation of entrants to Parliament are avid readers, he says.
"But, the elder generation used to read more."
For those who are interested, there is no dearth of latest books on various subjects -- ranging from politics, religion, sociology, history, economy and international relations.
"We are constantly updating our stock. There are some 75 publishers who are on our panel and they approach us whenever any new book comes out in the market," the official says.
Some 150 Indian and foreign newspapers and 587 periodicals in English, Hindi and other Indian languages are also available in the 87-year-old library.