National Library of Pakistan fills the void
ISLAMABAD, Sept 16: Libraries always play
an important role in promoting literacy in society. However, unfortunately in
Pakistan, libraries have remained a neglected part of the cultural heritage of
The citizens of the capital have to go to the National Library
of Pakistan (NLP) to quench their thirst for knowledge.
The Ministry of
Education has been claiming that it has enhanced the literacy rate, but they
have not bothered to set up needed libraries in the country, said a senior
official of the Department of Libraries, which works under the Ministry of
Education. The relevant authorities did not bother to set up any public library
in the federal capital to provide citizens easy access to information and
The NLP is a reference and research library, which has
a collection of 180,000 books on different topics. The NLP has five floors, each
having an air-conditioned hall. The library has 400 seats and it provides
Internet service to its users.
The first floor has a periodical section,
where 220 newspapers and 1,000 periodicals are daily available to readers. The
newspapers and periodicals include regional, national and some international
publications like Times, National Geographic and The Economist.
prominent feature of the library is reference books written in Persian, Urdu and
Arabic available on the second floor.
The NLP is also playing the role of
a depository library and it has preserved a variety of materials related to
Pakistan's history. The NLP administration has reserved its third floor for
books, reports and surveys on Pakistan, which include the Economic Surveys of
Pakistan, copies of Budgets presented since 1947, books on the heroes of
Pakistan and material on the Pakistan movement. The fourth floor of NLP contains
English reference books, encyclopaedia, dictionaries and materials about the
history of Europe.
Approximately 10,000 rare books and 561 manuscripts,
including books that were not reprinted, have been preserved in the NLP. The NLP
Readers Services Head Hazif Khubaib Ahmad said, "The manuscripts are kept in
lockers and are not opened for the average reader, since they are meant for bona
fide scholars doing research." Ahmed said due to importance of the manuscripts,
the administration was planning to make them digital to preserve and make them
accessible for people using Internet.
The administration was striving to
make the available knowledge accessible to all the readers in one form or the
other, he said, adding that the library was open for all without any charges.
However, for honorary membership, one should have completed 14 years of
education, but no extra charges were made, he added. He said the NLP collected
material related to Pakistan that was published abroad.
He said, "There
are 35,000 volumes of various magazines and newspapers available in the archives
of library." The library has allotted the International Standard Book Number
(ISBN) to 30,000 books so far, he added.
Ahmed said, "The library
receives around 35,000 books at the end of every year, since all the publishers
in the country are bound to send their publications to the library under the
However, another official at the library said that only
40 percent of the publishers sent their publications and the rest of the 60
percent did not comply with the law. He said that the administration sent three
reminders to those who violated the law.
Material in all 13 languages
used for different writings in Pakistan was available in the library, he said,
adding that the administration of the NLP could impose a fine up to Rs 500 on
violators through the court of law. "In most cases, however, the administration
of the library is reluctant to pursue violators," he said. Ahmad said the
received material was sent to the Department of Bibliography, which compiled the
matter and sent it to major libraries at the end of every year. He said the NLP
had been rendering its advisory services to major libraries across the country
since it was set up in 1993. Daily Times