Quaid-i-Azam Library on literary drive
LAHORE – A 100 rickshaw libraries, working under the Quaid e Azam Public Library, are to start lending books in their allocated areas in the city.
“We are reviving the culture of Paisa library, Aana library and Bus library, hoping people will respond positively to our efforts.25 Park libraries and 300 School Education Department libraries are also being set up in the Punjab capital city,” said Dr Zaheer Ahmad Baber, Director General of Public Libraries Punjab.
Quaid e Azam Library, the largest in Pakistan, recently announced the intention to digitalise its collection.
It boasts off a collection of 125,000 books in Urdu, English and Persian mainly.
It is a research and reference (non-lending) library and is an autonomous body, managed by its own board of governors.
Talking to The Nation on computerisation and overall development of libraries in Punjab, Dr Babar said: “The building of Quaid-e-Azam library has a history of its own.
It was built in the mid-19th century and converted into a library 33 years ago.
We are doing what we can to preserve and improve the dignity of this place.
“In accordance with the new world we initiated our digitalisation process in year 2014-15 by making a computer lab of 100 updated computer systems with free internet access where currently 50 student members are working.
They are allowed to use these computers as per their convenience to send and retrieve information they require.
“Students have access to HEC digital library, the Ebrary and the Jstor data for which this library pays these institutes and in addition to this we have digitalised 16,000 books and we aim for 35,000 more in the running year,” he added.
The DG Libraries further said that fifty international libraries are in process of exchanging their data with ours and a MoU (memorandum of understanding) with international libraries is also in play.
“We are installing a library software technology called KOHA in Punjab and it will enable us to synchronise all Punjab libraries, giving the members access to all libraries without the location barriers.
“What hinders our project is the reluctance from the authors to give us the rights to digitalise their works.
They are asking for huge sums to sell over the rights and library with its constrained budget is unable to comply.
“Our budget is around 75 millions here at Quaid e Azam and 40 million of which are paid in salaries and for the purchase of books we set aside around 10 million.
We endeavour for purchase of latest editions of books so that the members can benefit from latest updates.
But our budget is limited for the prospects of modernization,” he added.
Highlighting the government’s progress towards modern libraries, Dr Babar said: “We have installed solar power system in the library making it the first library to run on solar energy.
Punjab government added two halls recently dedicated to Urdu and English language.
We are open over 12 hours a day.
He further said that they were also working to make this library more public friendly so that common people might finally discard the idea that this library is some lofty building reserved for A-class scholars.
“We conducted two book fairs, a Book Parade to Punjab Assembly and other activities to spread the message we brought books of Nobel Prize Winner and thesis of prominent scholars in Quaid e Azam Library,” Babar added.
“Our CSS and Ph.D programs are famous because we have all the material required for it.
We have over 40,000 members who pay a minimal sum of Rs300 for annual membership.
Senior citizens over 60 can become members free of charge.
We also provide the facility to have those books photocopied for students who can’t afford them.
“Students should be facilitated at all costs.
Only because they can’t afford costly books their learning shouldn’t be obstructed,” he further told The Nation.
The DG Libraries also urged the civil society and students to come forward for the promotion of libraries “because without them we have no hope for the development of the book and library culture.
“For us to grow as a nation we need to establish nationalism in Pakistan.
I am a believer in nationalism and I believe that it is our path to evolution.
Zaheer said that due to the co-operation of Chief Minister Punjab, they are about to open seven new libraries and seven libraries are in pipeline.We purchased private libraries and renovated the shambling ones.
176 libraries that were closed under the municipality are being reopened while a pilot project of three container libraries shall begin operating in Lahore in areas of Allama Iqbal Town, Dehli Gate and DHA Phase V,” he added.