CHITRAL: Public libraries have always played an important role in creation of a healthy community. It goes without saying that a library is a democratic equalizer, open to all and providing access to information.
Public libraries are set up by municipalities and other government and private organizations and they remain key centres drawing people from all ages in developed countries.
Even in major cities of Pakistan, especially Karachi, there are public libraries in almost all residential areas.
Though with the onslaught of the social media in people’s lives, libraries have lost space still these are the places where one can find a treasure of reading materials.
But as Chitral lacks most of the basic necessities of life, finding a library in the valley has always been a rare phenomenon. And even the lone municipal library set up in the town is not only losing its visitors day by day but also facing lack of facilities due to government’s apathy to upgrade it.
Talking to ChitralToday, Saifulah Jan, the librarian, said the municipal library was set up in the centre of the town about three decades ago. He said in the past about 200 people, including teachers, students, lawyers, doctors and people from different walks of life, used to visit the library daily.
But now the number of daily visitors to the library has dwindled to just 40 to 50. Mr Jan said the library had about 5,000 books on different topics. But for years no new books have been added to the shelves.
He said addition of new books was essential to continue engaging the readers and provide them latest information on different topics.
He said the library had a vast area and the single-storey building could be expanded and used for different purposes. By constructing another floor, the library could be shifted upstairs and the ground floor could be turned into an auditorium etc for use by the public for different functions and events.
He said a proposal to set up an IT centre on the premises of the library had been submitted to the authorities concerned but it went unnoticed.
It is ironic that during the last about two years, no officer of the local administration or any member of the national or provincial assemblies and local government visited the library, said the librarian.–Muhkam Uddin Ayuni