Friday, November 21, 2008

Treasures of Learning

All over the world, libraries are considered one of the best sources of knowledge. For this purpose, every area is provided with the facility of its own library that is open to the public on easy terms. Contrary to this, in our country the 'library culture' is fast declining instead of growing. A proper library culture is one in which people go to libraries not only for studying and consulting reference books but also for their pleasure reading during spare time. In the past, private libraries and people taking full advantage of this facility could still be seen in different parts of the city.
But now, even students don't use the libraries established in their schools and colleges. There are many factors contributing to the dismal condition of libraries in our country. The foremost factor is that a 'library culture' is not developed in our children at school level. Almost every school has a scheduled library period at least once a week. But this period is usually taken either by teachers to complete their courses or is wasted by the students in chitchatting. Those who want to read are faced by another problem-the non-availability of good books. Most libraries in our educational institutes are not well stocked. The fault for this lies with the librarians who do not bother to inform the concerned authorities about the need for additional books as per their duty. The school/college authorities should also make sure that not only old but recent books, related to all subjects, are also available in the library. Thus, the library period that can be used effectively to inculcate the habit of going to a library for reading purposes in children is wasted due to the negligence of those responsible for educating our youth.
However, the matter is more complex than this. Even if our schools manage to create awareness about the use of libraries and the public starts appreciating books and wishes to read, the scarcity of good public libraries will be a huge hindrance. Even in a big city like Karachi, the libraries present are so badly stocked that they are not worth visiting. I once went to Liaquat National Library and was shocked to see that the whole English section consisted only of large numbers of dictionaries. Libraries like Aga Khan Library and Defense Library are comparatively better but these are open only to members. People living in other areas can't access these libraries and the membership fees are also too high to be afforded by everyone.
The only solution to all these problems is that the government sets up good libraries in as many areas of the city as possible, which should be open to any one who wants to read. Furthermore, a regular inventory should be conducted of these libraries to ensure that the latest books are available and the old books are in good reading condition.
Syeda Mahwish Fatima Naqvi write Articles, Features, Column in Different newspapers and Magazines, working as a content writer.

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