Karachi's public libraries
Karachi, July : "WHY is there not a Majesty's library in every county town? There is a
Majesty's jail and gallows in every one," wrote Thomas Carlyle. My question is:
why is there not a public library in every union council? There is a garbage
dump in every one. The local government has installed huge garbage dumps at a
large number of places across the city. One such dump can be seen from miles –
and can be smelled as well – right in front of the Urdu Dictionary Board's
office, courtesy the nazim of Gulshan-i-Iqbal Town.
Somehow I feel that
the more libraries you have, the fewer jails and gallows you will need. It's an
oft-repeated lament that a megacity like Karachi does not have enough libraries
and, with skyrocketing prices of books, the public simply doesn't know where to
go to find a book on a subject that interests them. Baffled especially are those
who don't have an access to the internet or need some information that is not
Yet there are others (like this writer) who are simply
technology-shy. For them, the good old way of reading a book -– a process that
involves holding a book in your hands rather than staring at a computer screen
-- is so easy that they are pathologically averse to becoming acquainted with
modern technology. Some modern Rip Van Winkles seek refuge from overbearing
wives in the broadsheets of a newspaper and that too in the peaceful atmosphere
of a public library. But where are the libraries?
Though not on a scale
one would have desired, Karachi does have a good number of libraries. Many
Karachiites simply don't know where the libraries are. When Mohammad Yousuf
Naeem, a young researcher and author, set out to do some spadework for his book
he was planning to write, he was at his wits' end as to where to turn to for
books because he knew nothing about Karachi's public libraries.
he did find a library and many other good ones but the hardship he faced in
locating them made him think about other booklovers. "Why not write a book that
would guide the booklovers to Karachi's public libraries?" he wondered and
started collecting data for the book `Karachi Ke Awami Kutub Khane: Aik
The book is an introduction to the public libraries of the
concrete jungle otherwise known as Karachi. The slim volume gives brief but very
useful information, stating the location of the libraries, their phone numbers,
number of books and even the route numbers of buses and mini-buses that take you
The book catalogues some 60 libraries. The number is obviously
smaller than expected and many libraries have not been mentioned. The author
admits that there are many more and told me, a couple of months back, that he
was working on the second, updated and revised edition as the first edition,
published only in January 2007, was running low on stocks.
good book contains some minor calligraphic errors and at times the language is
coarse. Since the book is published by the author, he can always insert a thing
or two. Some of the entries need more elaboration.
Some information that
seems too good to be true needs double-check: the number of books, for instance,
at Karachi University's Dr Mahmood Husain library has been put at 600,000. That
makes it Pakistan's largest library, which it is not.And it would be nice to put
in the book that there is a library at Karachi's central prison. The poor fellow
Carlyle would be pleased to know that gallows and books go together
By Dr Rauf Parekh
"I agree. Everywhere in the WEST you go, library is a major part of the city. Not only does it keeps kids off the streets, it provides a good place for them to study queitly for exams especially in a country like Pakistan where most people live in joined families and have no quiet place at home. http://1pakistangifts.com."
City, Country: Karachi, Pakistan
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