The library is the in-house collection of information and knowledge that enrich our mental and intellectual capacity. Every book, non-book (microfilm or microfiche), periodical, newspaper, and other items of information and knowledge are valuable for the development of a civilisation.
Every word of a document or book containing the writers' and scholars' insights, thoughts, and prophecies are stored and preserved in the libraries to enlighten society and cultivate promising future generations by disseminating knowledge and wisdom.
Famous Bangali writer Motaher Hossain Chowdhury termed the library as the standard for ascertaining the growth and development of a civilization and the progress of a nation. Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore had a huge reverence for the library. He stated that a library can be thought of as a Tower of Silence, like a sleeping child, which embodies the entrapped vibrations of an age-old ocean. On the other hand, Pramatha Chowdhury placed the library above schools and colleges because literary practice is the main part of education.
A library is meaningless without a rich collection of reading materials and research content. Readers are the sole agents of a library. The way bees climb onto different flowers to collect nectar, readers find their way to gather necessary information from the vast ocean of knowledge. In addition, the library is regarded as the University of the masses. The underprivileged section of society can easily access the universe of knowledge through the library.
Libraries are categorised as public, private, academic, special, and other types based on their functionalities and purposes. In a general perspective, public libraries are primarily given the highest emphasis as the preeminent platforms for expanding literacy and life-long education owing to facilitating a good number of users and providing accessibility to all classes of people.
Bangladesh, as a densely populated country, must introduce and nurture full-bodied library culture in every nook and corner to educate the vast majority of her population in both urban and rural areas. The government, along with different NGOs and some philanthropic personalities, are rendering relentless efforts to establish libraries to enlighten the backward portion of populaces who are deprived of higher education and scientific knowledge.
Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed, one of the legendary personalities of Bangladesh, established Bishwo Shahitto Kendro (World Literature Center) in 1978 with the slogan "We want enlightened people" to cultivate the reading habit among the common masses. Professor Sayeed has introduced the concept of the mobile library under Bishwo Shahitto Kendro, which has been circumnavigating across the country to attract readers to read books on easy borrow and return procedures.
A civilisation flourishes and reaches the ultimate destination by the relentless effort and endeavour of a knowledge-based society. The growth of this knowledge-based society is essentially reliant on the progress and advancement of libraries. The more a country concentrates on the expansion of library culture among its populace with full-fledged information and communication technologies, the more knowledge societies and skilled generations are likely to grow to take all the development activities and socio-economic impetus to the advanced level.
As ill luck would have it, Bangladesh is still lagging behind on the way to nurturing and speeding up library programmes across the country to appear as a champion in the race with the developed and developing nations to cope with the challenges of the 21st century.
Bangladesh's government is committed to developing the country's socio-economic standing and achieving the status of a high-income country through digitisation and industrialisation within 2041. Vision-41 will become successful only when a good number of educated people participate in the development programmes.
Here comes the need to establish libraries to spread education at the grassroots level. Every town and village must have a library explicitly designed to facilitate the modern reading environment for all age groups by ensuring ICTs and digital library facilities.
No development initiative will bear any fruit without educating the greater portion of the rural population. Besides, the existing Digital divide between towns and villages needs to be eliminated by launching digitisation programmes in the libraries to prepare common masses as skilful human capitals for marking our presence in the changing world of knowledge and information.
The government, NGOs and other philanthropic organisations should work hand in hand to popularise library culture across the country to fulfil the dream of illiteracy-, hunger- and poverty-free 'Sonar Bangla' by promoting lifelong learning programmes through libraries.
Md Habibur Rahman and Aktarul Islam are writers, poets, and researchers. They can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org