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Libraries need national attention

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By Muhammad Ittefaq

Muhammad Ittefaq

Quaid-e-Azam Public Library

300 college and 250 school libraries without librarians

LAHORE: There are only 478, 613 books and 117,448 members in six public libraries of the provincial capital city with a very low attendance of readers – 2500 to 3000 daily – while many vacancies lying vacant and security arrangements are defective, reveals The Educationist investigative report. The six public libraries are Quaid-e-Azam Public Library, Government Model Town Public Library, Dayal Singh Trust Library, Punjab Public Library, Defence Public Library Complex and Chugatai Public Library. Only 40 professionals are working in these libraries many posts are lying vacant.

Bodleian Library, Oxford, UKLibraries and Archives Department Director General Dr Zaheer Baber said that libraries should be so attractive to get in the people. There is an ambiguity about the regulations of libraries in the country. “Unfortunately in Pakistan there is no law for libraries while on the other hand India made a law in 1948,” he said.

Pakistan Library Association Secretary Dr Shahid Soroya said there were a total 1233 libraries in Punjab including 172 public libraries, 685 collages, 26 Public sector universities and 350 school libraries across the province. He said several times demands were made to the government to appoint librarians on a large number of vacant positions, but to no avail. Dr Soroya said that recently Education Minister Rana Mashood issued a directive in a meeting paying attention towards the condition of libraries in the province.

Other PLA sources said all public libraries in Punjab were in bad condition and no one was taking notice of the deteriorated condition of book banks. Another source revealed that 300 college and 250 school libraries were running without librarians.

However, Punjab Libraries DG Dr Zaheer Baber said out of total1033number of libraries in the province, 550 were in colleges, 155 in universities, 171 local government and 160 municipality libraries. Baber was not satisfied with the budgetary allocations for the libraries as per his gestures during the discussion. He said public libraries must be taken care of as these were nation building. He said education was key to success.Replying to a query, Baber said that he had got 1500 libraries registered.

University of Engineering and Technology Vice Chancellor Dr Fazal Ahmed Khalid during recent book fair said 21st century is the country of knowledge and power and Lahore was a centre of literature as 80 percent book of the country were published in Lahore.

New York Public LibraryBook reading is essential for the personal development in life. No one can gain knowledge without consulting good books. Reading habits are lead to a nation on the path of success. Schools, colleges, universities and libraries are the hub of knowledge. Unfortunatelythese are all sectors ignored continuously by the governments of Pakistan since 1947. Infrastructure of libraries and schools had old and deteriorated. On the other hand public libraries should be building according to the population of the country. There was dire need to improve infrastructure of public libraries, renovation and fumigation labs to preserve the antique books.

Librarians said that buildings were old and they needed professional staff as well as renovation labs. Defense Public librarian said that hundreds post were vacant of librarian but government did not take steps.Professional staff was necessary for the revival of book reading habits among the masses. New books, cooperative staff and campaigns were mandatory to promote quality education within the country.

Reading Room at the British Museum, London, England

In the most developed countries of the world where literacy rate almost 99 and 100% reason behind this was to inculcate the readings among the people. Public libraries were waiting for the “National Action Plan” on education. Recently Nepali government took steps to promote reading habit among the subjects. In Pakistan never sew a countrywide campaign on book reading. While on the other side in developed nation several hundred libraries for people.

QUAID-E-AZAM PUBLIC LIBRARY: Library Director General Dr Zaheer Baber said that library had 50,000 members and 1,50,000 Books. The library was non-lending. The number of employees is 104. There were no CCTV cameras which showed the insecurity of libraries. Professional staff was 10- 12 people. Renovation lab was available to preserve books.

GOVERNMENT MODEL TOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY: Chief Librarian Eid Khan said that there were 50000 books and 10000 members since 1986. Only 15 employees were running the library. There were 12 computers but unfortunately they had no access to HEC. This library was lending and allowed people to read their personal books over here. Like others it had also no website. No CCTV cameras for security. There were 10 professionals in library. Seating capacity were 200 at one time. There were no designed room for renovation and preservation of books.

DAYAL SINGH TRUST LIBRARY: Chief Librarian Faqeerullah said that library was established in 1928 and had 10098members. There were 44 employees and it had budget of 18 million.It was non lending library. There were no CCTV cameras for the security of library. Total number of professionals was 12. Faqeerullah said that there were no website and renovation and fumigation labs.

Unfortunately there was not a single computer for public use.The library is under the control of federal government and Mr Sanaullah is working as acting director.

PUNJAB PUBLIC LIBRARY: Chief Librarian Azra Usman said that library was established in 1884 and was the oldest library in Pakistan. The total number of members were 42,000 with 40,000 books in the library. Mrs Usman said she needed more professional staff and the building was also very old.

The lending library has atotal 65 employees. No CCTV cameras and no website. She said that they had space problem for books and members. She added that it was need of restoration and fumigation chamber to preserve the old books.

DEFENCE PUBLIC LIBRARY: Librarian Malik Azam said that library was founded in the year 2000 having50,000        books and 5,000 members. The total number of employees is 13 and there are 25computers for users. This is a lending library with its own website but it lacked CCTV cameras for security.

CHUGATAI PUBLIC LIBRARY: Chief Librarian Rehana Kousar said that the project of public library was started by the Chugatai Lahore Lab in 2013. Librarian said that they had 6000 books and 350 members. She said that there was no budget specified for this project. It was non lending library. She said they had website and CCTV cameras for security.

Stockholm Public Library, Stockholm, Sweden

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