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Public libraries

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Oct 7, 2012

Once I had this very habit of spending hours in library. And then suddenly many things happened to me and I stopped walking the way to library.

Recently, I have again caught with this old ritual of mine. Not bad. I love reading anyway. However, problem lies somewhere else. There is not enough books in our libraries. I’m particularly interested in business books and non-fiction. Don’t think I’m a kind of commercial. But I’m indeed. I love to learn how these people play in market. But alas! there is almost no book on business in our library. I searched almost whole book list of our central library, Dhaka University, and left with empty hands. There were no recent books that can ignite my interest for a rigorous reading. Then the National Public Library, one that located in Shabag, the case is all the same.

Well, what the hell all these ministries are doing with our tax money?

Learning is crucial for life. A modicum of learning can change a whole lot of things. But we don’t learn without effort. And reading is the best way of keep learning. But how can you read when there is almost no books (no new books) in public libraries. The common price of book is not for commoners in Bangladesh. The price is beyond our reach. They are too much to go for, whether it's a book of Bangladeshi writer or otherwise. And thus public libraries, around the country, are the last resorts of hope for people like us, who has still a thirst for reading but no money.

However, this problem is not irreducible. We have options. We've been talking about the concept of digital Bangladesh but little conscious about who will materialize it.

The technology, any kind of it, is widespread and easily available. Even individuals, wealthy, are using them to make life a bit adventurous. Our libraries can avail the advantage of mobile application system and online discovery system to improve their services which will also cost less. The ideas for improving system and services is widespread. What is important is willingness to do the work.

Ebook is a common phenomena now and also less costly in many extent. Moreover, with a minimum number of ebooks a lot of people can be served. Books are costly purchase here. Most people can’t afford. A business book of average price cost you around BDT 700-800 and more which is like saying "don’t read". Similarly, books by our national authors and publishers are also costly, which demotivate reading and makes reading a privilege for only few with money. Thus, public libraries are the only places where everyone can have access to satiate their hunger for knowledge or learning.


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Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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