Knowledge, as Socrates said, is the highest virtue or excellence. Truly, knowledge is an inseparable and an inalienable character of human nature. It is as important as the existence of mankind itself. Undeniably, it leads human civilization to discover new things and open-up new horizons. Besides, it makes their existence more valuable and significant to the cosmos. Indeed, through knowledge the philosophy of life and God gets revealed to the whole mankind. In this regard, the concept of a library plays a significant and productive role all the time. Without a grain of doubt, libraries are an epicenter of knowledge and a place of those who love wisdom and have a passion for more learning and knowledge. This place develops the human mind with sufficient intellectual fertility, constructive and a progressive thinking. As someone rightly said that “people in libraries are as lethal as soldiers”.
Undoubtedly, it is the place that helps an individual to transform his/her life and to touch new horizons and new heights. It is true that these places are sowing the seeds of good and capable minds that in return could lead their societies to real and healthy destinations and achievements. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that, what we can learn from these places can hardly be learned anywhere else. “The purpose of a library is to collect, organize, preserve and provide access to knowledge and information in the form of books. It maintains a record or a collection of valuable books and records that can be passed to future generations. In the developed countries it is a source of freedom, equality and individual rights”.
Given the importance of the public library in the contemporary times, I recently visited a small block level library housed in a rented building and has been shifted thrice since late 1970’s in the main town of Hajin in Bandipora. The library has near about 8,000 valuable books on politics, science and religion, and a rich collection on Urdu literature and Sufism. The history of the library can be traced from the late 1970’s, when the then state of Jammu and Kashmir had started to establish handful of public libraries across the state and the existing block library in Hajin was one among them to provide and facilitate a reading space to the people of Hajin and the other adjusting areas.
One of the regular visitors of the library told me that people walked miles to borrow books and would scan the pages of daily English and Urdu newspapers available in the library. But, unfortunately the situation isn’t the same; my recent visit to the library exposed to me the shabby and disorganized look of the four decade's old library. In the library, I have seen the half empty racks, broken and dusty lockers; outdated and disordered collection of books and heaps of dust eating the books placed on uncleaned and ragged shelves. However, the saddest part of the library was when the current librarian told me that more than four hundred (400) valuable books are missing and were not returned from years and years by local and non-local borrowers. Sadly, none is serious about bringing those valuable books back to the library.
Besides, I haven’t seen a local daily/national newspaper or a weekly/monthly magazine present in the library. Although, Kashmir based newspapers and even national newspapers are avalable on the local news agency of the village.
Since 1970’s, it is sad to say that the existing block library of Hajin is still housed in a rented building. Although, a sufficient state land is available in the main town to build a full-fledged library with a well furnished reading room along with other necessary facilities. Here, I shall argue, that giving a boost to book reading culture among the youngsters and to provide a separate reading space for the senior citizens must be the top priority for the administration. The district administration and the Jammu and Kashmir Department of Libraries and Research must come forward to build a full-fledged library within the town. The library must be updated with sufficient and essential material for competitive examinations like IAS/KAS and NET/NEET/JEE/CAT. Because there are a number of students from Hajin and the nearby areas preparing for different state and national level examinations including the civil services.
However, to make a long story short, I am of the opinion that for a sound and a healthy society, book reading culture and the concept of library must be encouraged.
JAVEED BIN NABI, is a student of Political Science at Kashmir University.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.