City Landmarks – Mulla Fazil Hall Library

The building looks like it was built sometime in 70s. The recent renovation makes it difficult to make an educated guess. The contractors trusted with renovations in the city have started giving the same treatment to every building. Shinning tiles, gaudy false ceilings and misfit fixtures are a common theme that you find across the city and across the institutions. Does not matter if it is a 18th century dispensary, a heritage park or a library. Kill all the buildings with one formula!

Mulla Fazil Hall Library (formerly Lyari Textbook Library) has been central to the intellectual development of several generations of Lyari. It was primarily known for essential collection of textbooks, a lot of which students could not afford and frequented the library for using them as a reference. It is still frequented by students despite easy availability of reference books now. A lot of students find it a convenient setup to finish their school work and some of them actually read fiction and magazines. Compared to rest of Karachi, I have found public spaces thriving with activity in Lyari and Mulla Fazil Library benefits from the same trend.

The library is close to Aath Chowk, a famous landmark connecting eight roads in heart of Lyari. The library constitutes of mainly a big central hall with a small corridor and an office at the entrance. It was built in times when air-conditioning was not an option and hence there are lots of windows ensuring wind circulation. The books are stocked in either wooden cabinets or steel shelves. Some of the books are really old and have required another round of binding. People at the library tell me that the library has not received new stock of books for sometime but USAID and Rotary donated few hundred books last year. They also helped renovate the building and painted a mural at the front wall, which looks terribly out of place.

Mulla Fazil Hall Library could still play a major role in times of mobile data services. It is able to attract a lot of students organically. It could attract more with little help from authorities and civil society.

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Categories: City Landmarks

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