Library- a sanctuary for many and a heaven for book lovers and knowledge seekers. It is a getaway for people who like to imagine all the impossibilities of this world. A library seems to be a sacred place for many, so why is that we fail to see many functional libraries in Pakistan today? On top of that, it’s heart-wrenching to witness the state of those that have survived the brunt of time.
The History of Libraries in Pakistan
To talk about the libraries in Pakistan, we first need to understand how the National Library of Pakistan functions. This library serves as a hub where all the published literary heritage is stored. It was founded in 1949 and was merged with Liaqat National Library in 1954, after which it was separated again in 1968. The library has a major blow during the 1971 war when the literature was shifted to Bangladesh. As a result, a lot of the material at the national library was lost to the new country. Slow growth and development started to take place soon after the war and the library was finally open to the public in 1993.
Numerous other public libraries also exist. However, most libraries are part of some university, which begs the need for more public libraries that are accessible by all.
The Societal Development Function of Libraries:
It is crucial to understand the importance of the institutions we have in our society and the purpose they serve. The values and morals of the people are reflected in the way society behaves. Due to the constant flux of society, the morals and the customs of people have evolved over time. While the society continued to develop, the kind of information available to the people should have also evolved with time. However, we see little change in the libraries’ system as little done for their expansion. The problems include lack of monetary support, untrained staff, lack of technological facilities like the internet, and outdated monitoring systems that help librarians keep check of the books stocked in the library.
As a nation progresses, so does its socio-political fabric. When the government sets a stringent curriculum in schools, for instance, libraries take up the role of diversifying opinions. With a set national narrative, we cannot work through our potential pitfalls. Books particularly on current affairs, local and international, help citizens keep up with their role in the geopolitical affairs. It also keeps us mindful of who is our rightful ally and who isn’t, internationally. Libraries are important so that we make more mindful opinions, instead of just going with the flow. And, this is just one example of the importance of libraries to a country as a whole. Individually, book reading reaps a lot more benefits.
Library Utopia: The Creative Function of Libraries.
Remember the times when libraries in small neighborhoods used to serve as a binding force for the people residing there? Where kids would come cycling on their neon-colored bikes and fill their baskets with tonnes of books. That too, books heavier than the weight they could carry themselves. Libraries helped the parents take part in their child’s literacy development, making it a site for families to connect. These connections are important to society’s development as a whole.
It was all lost and we slowly started to lose our faith in community gatherings. Technology once refused to step in the confines of the public libraries. Now, it consumes us all in libraries, homes, and virtually everywhere else. We saw the need to go to a library slowly diminish from our lives. And so, standing in a queue to get the book stamped at the back and to excitedly exit the library with a promise to come back, suddenly became a thing of the past. An activity that was not only refreshing but also great for our minds. For we learned new things and shared them with our peers.
An activity that we all need to actively strive for to have a comeback!