Yesterday, February 5, was National Library Day.
We celebrate so many days for so many special occasions, but this day is special for book lovers and organizers of libraries.
I express my gratitude to the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Honourable Minister of Cultural Affairs Asaduzzaman Noor, and everyone else associated who made this expectation come to life.
Organized by the Directorate of Public Library under the Cultural Affairs Ministry, the theme of this year’s Library Day was “Boi Pori, Shodesh Gori
Libraries are the carriers of civilization.
The history of libraries is thousands of years long.
There are a few decades-old libraries here in Bangladesh. They are the bearers of our knowledge and culture.
The main topic of this article is the internet -- a decreasing number of book readers in the age of Facebook, creation of new readers, and moving forward with the library movement.
The wheels of science, technology, and civilization are bound by a single thread.
Every now and then, life changes with new technological innovations. However, it is said that science gives us speed, but takes away our emotions.
The progress of technology cannot and should not be slowed down. However, its misuse has to be stopped, and appropriate use must be ensured.
The dark side of the internet
We like getting everything as easily and conveniently as possible. The internet and smart-phones have made communication between people very easy. A world of information is available at the palm of our hands because of it.
We have become addicted to our smartphones. Most of us are on social media all the time, regardless of whether it’s day or night.
This often hampers sleep, and affects daily activities.
Everyone, from teenagers to adults, is into it.
Many among us hardly buy a book worth Tk100 in a whole year, but are generous when it comes to smart-phone expenditures.
The excessive use of smartphones is increasing the number of cases of mental depression, and is negatively affecting our eyesight.
An enlightened society will have a greater chance of emerging if we collectively and individually take steps to build and promote libraries
Recently, I read in a newspaper that a girl had lost her eyesight due to excessive use of internet. The excessive use, or misuse, of Facebook or similar technological innovations negatively affects our lives.
We must make some room in our lives for reading books. Book-reading is, perhaps, the only addiction that is a good addiction. I’m talking about printed/hard cover books. This will do us good.
Hope drives us. We want to be hopeful that people will read books and visit libraries more, but that will be a reality only if libraries accommodate the needs of the modern reader. We have to keep up with changing times.
Libraries have to be made centres of the practice of knowledge, in addition to the academic knowledge imparted in institutions. Everyone, regardless of age, gender, religion, and race will come to libraries, and make it a centre of knowledge.
There are few things that we can do to improve our current state of affairs:
Family libraries are needed to encourage children to read books from an early age. Libraries with librarians must be made mandatory in primary schools -- although libraries are mandatory, many high schools still do not have libraries.
Moreover, the government has included the post of assistant librarian in the MPO, but the post sits empty in many schools. Schools that already have librarians make their librarians do many things outside the scope of their actual jobs.
In the higher secondary level, libraries are mandatory, but are not given much importance. Many colleges have libraries in name only, but lack the initiative to enrich them. One of the determinants of the quality of education imparted in a university is the quality of its library, and we need to ensure it.
Libraries can be a part of all the literary and cultural clubs and associations. Magazines can be kept there. This will play a role in reducing the possibility of the youth being distracted towards unhealthy practices like taking drugs, gambling, etc.
An enlightened society will have a greater chance of emerging if we collectively and individually take steps to build and promote libraries.
Emdad Hossain Bhuiyan is President of Bangladesh Gronthoshurid Samity.