The Need for Public Libraries in Balochistan

Students queued up outside Quetta’ Only public library to grab a place given number of limited seats. Photo submitted by writer

By Mudasir Kakar

“I had found my religion: nothing seemed more important to me than a book. I saw the library as a temple,” Jean-Paul Sartre.

No doubt, libraries play an important role for the development of any nation. Library is the only place where students and readers can study about anything without any disturbance. They create intellectuals, philosophers and persons of upright character in society by grooming at such treasured places. Libraries also develop soft skills and hence open ways to employment for youth along with being the primary source of instilling the book reading habits. Flipping a few pages of history tells us that developed nations, world over, have made concept of libraries part of their civilization.

Unfortunately, there are no sufficient libraries in Balochistan which has a negative impact on the youth and their personal development. The miscalculated priorities of government in this regard are a source of educational fatigue among students in particular and in society in general. This is one of main of reasons why literacy rate is very low compared to other provinces in Balochistan.

It must not come as shock to the national and international readers that the provincial capital of this province—Balochistan—has only one public library which lacks basic facilities such as chairs, books, cold water and clean washrooms. Students from different districts come to Quetta for higher education but they face many problems: insufficient libraries being one of them.

This compels students to visit different universities and colleges for reading books and preparing for competitive examinations but now days these universities have adopted a policy of not allowing students to enter their premises who are not enrolled with them. This has doubled the problems for the candidates of competitive examinations. If such is the state of affairs in the provincial capital, one can imagine the deterioration of matters on this front in interior Balochistan such as Loralai, Zhob, Chaman, Khuzdar, Kalat and beyond.

An urgent focus of Government of Balochistan is required towards the issues of insufficient public libraries which falls under its basic responsibilities to establish libraries in every district of Balochistan so that students should have access to books and a tranquil atmosphere to study. I appeal to different non-government organizations to fill the gap and come forward to help students by establishing few well equipped libraries in Balochistan as Victor Hugo puts it, a library implies an act of faith.

Mudasir Kakar is a student and a writer from Balochistan.

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