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Libraries in Pabna grapple with declining readership

Shaheen Rahman, Pabna

Published: 04:21, 5 February 2024

Libraries in Pabna grapple with declining readership

Photo : Messenger

Libraries in Pabna are facing a decline in readership, raising concerns about the diminishing interest in reading among students. 
Despite the presence of libraries in schools and colleges, the lack of enthusiasm for books is evident. Many educational institution libraries are also being neglected. Even the District Government Public Library, which boasts a considerable collection, is grappling with low readership, compounded by a shortage of manpower.

National Library Day, observed on February 5th, prompted an examination of three prominent libraries in Pabna—Pabna District Government Public Library, Pabna Town Girls High School, and Shaheed Government Bulbul College. A visit to the District Government Public Library revealed a disheartening scene. At noon, children were found playing in the library premises, and only eight students were engaged in reading books and magazines. Notably, there was no Assistant Librarian in charge, only a library assistant.

Urmi Akhtar, a student at Pabna Science and Technology University, expressed her dedication to visiting the government public library almost daily for two months. Despite praising the environment and the quality of books, she highlighted the scarcity of readers. Other students echoed similar sentiments, suggesting that better organization, such as digitization, could enhance the library experience.

Abdul Latif, the library assistant, acknowledged the decline in readership but mentioned the availability of free internet and Wi-Fi for readers. He attributed the decrease to the changing landscape of knowledge acquisition through digital means.

The District Government Public Library, established in 1987, houses 40,270 books and serves a modest number of readers, reporting 1,041 readers in November, 1,049 in December, and 1,048 in January. However, the library is grappling with a significant shortage of manpower, with half of the positions, including Senior Librarian, Technical Assistant, Check Post Assistant, Security Guard, and Office Assistant, remaining unfilled for an extended period.

A visit to Pabna Town Girls High School revealed a poorly equipped library lacking a dedicated space. The school's headmaster cited space constraints as a reason for storing books in cramped conditions, and the school librarian emphasized the need for a more enriched library space.

Shaheed Government Bulbul College, despite having an extensive book collection, faced an unexpected closure of its library on a Sunday afternoon. The college librarian assured that renovations were underway, emphasizing the ample books and a conducive reading environment.

Dr. M. Abdul Alim, a teacher and researcher at Pabna Science and Technology University, acknowledged the shift in knowledge acquisition methods, attributing the decline in library visits to the prevalence of online information searches. The evolving technological landscape, he noted, has impacted traditional modes of knowledge acquisition, leading to a reduced interest in libraries.