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Concern over shortage of KU library staff

Karachi, April 23(The News): The students and teachers at the University of Karachi have expressed their resentment over the pathetic state of affairs in the Dr Mahmud Hussain Library.

Borrowing books has become a herculean task for students because either the books are not available or there is not a sufficient number of attendents to issue them.

The students use the archaic catalogue system to write the name of the books they want to borrow. The library attendant takes it and disappears into the labyrinth of the library and reappears after a considerable time to announce that the book(s) is not available at the moment. Some teachers narrated the same story on Thursday.

Arjumand Bano, the librarian said that they have about half a million books but due to the manual catalogue and improper arrangement of books, more time is required to get them and deliver to borrowers.

Prof. Malahat Kaleem Sherwani, Chairperson of the Department of Library and Information Sciences, agreed that there was shortage of staff in the library. She said that 125 staff members were supposed to man the library but currently 60 to 70 are doing the work.

"Three senior professional staff members died some time ago but their posts are lying vacant. No selection board is being constituted for the selection of the new staff though vacancies were announced in the national press a few months ago," she said.

She added that there was no dearth of professional staff in the field but the university has to dole out better pay and perks to attract the best of them. "A very competent reference librarian migrated to Canada and nobody has turned up to fill the gap. It is really sad that the library is being ignored by the university authorities," she said.

A group of students lounging near the library echoed the general concern that the library had become a white elephant - an imposing structure but useless to the students.

"We go to the library to borrow a book but we are told that it is out of stock or that someone has already borrowed it", complained a female student. "We pay for our studies, we pay for our memberships but we are treated in a very disrespectful way by the staff of the library," she said.
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