Rawalpindi's only public library needs upgradationPakistan
Established in 1873 and located next to Liaquat Bagh, the Rawalpindi Municipal Library on Murree Road is the only public library in the city but is not being properly maintained by the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC).
With more than 40,000 books, the library is still operating under an old library classification system, which does not have use for computers and under which books are classified manually.
The library was established almost a century and a half ago in two small rooms, was stocked with 1,000 books and had 25 members, which has since increased to 8,000 of which only 200 are active members.
The library was upgraded in 1980, was given a proper building and the then president Gen Ziaul Haq gave Rs1million as funds for the facility to the then mayor Ghulam Hussein.
The library was destroyed during the flood in Nullah Leh in 2001 and has not been maintained properly since, though residents of the city still come to borrow books.
The library had air conditioners in the reading hall which are no longer in working condition. The upper storey was constructed for holding literary functions in but was turned into a storage area.
No new books have been purchased for the library in 17 years with officials saying this is due to the shortage of funds. The library does not have an Internet connection or a computer to help in research. The building does not even have a photocopier and no washrooms.
Because there are no computers, books, magazines and newspapers are classified manually which is a long process and requires three to five people for the process to be completed.
Books are first classified according to subject by the librarian or senior staff, another official numbers the book. A catalogue is put in wooden boxes where readers can find books by author’s name, subject, title and date of publication.
A student of Physics, Hamza Moiz said he comes to the library to prepare for exams and to find reference books. He said he finds himself wasting time if he conducts online searches.
“We can be saved a lot of time if a computerised catalogue is available,” he said. A student of Islamic studies, Naima Qamar said she was visiting the library to look for books on Islamic Fiqa.
“I come here every day and study in the reading hall for two or three hours because we do not have another library in Rawalpindi where one can find reference books,” she said.
She said the atmosphere in the library is calm and quiet but needs more facilities including a photocopier.
“I take pictures [of books] on my mobile phone but I need a hard copy to study,” she said.
When asked, Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) Chief Municipal Officer Khalid Goraya said the RMC was planning on improving the library and introducing computers and an Internet connection.
The corporation was given control of the library which was first managed by the now defunct City District Government Rawalpindi, he said, and that the corporation will now improve facilities in the building and also add more books. He said branches of the library will be opened in other parts of the city after consulting with public representatives of various union councils and local parliamentarians as doing so will require more funds.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2017