City Libraries – Al Huda Library, 3D Nazimabad

Nazimabad is a very well planned neighborhood. Let me put a necessary disclaimer here that my orientation of Nazimabad is very basic but I continue to find libraries with ease in this big neighborhood. I reach Al-Huda Library around noon on a working day. My earlier visits to libraries in Karachi in general and Nazimabad in particular have lowered expectations so I see some hope when I sense a functional library from the main entrance.

Al-Huda library was founded in 1987 with the help of Mohalla committee and then councilor, Haji Abdul Sattar. The library has a hall on ground floor along with a small office for librarian. Another hall and a librarian room was added on first floor in 2005 for women. There are two tablets installed on the front wall commemorating both events. The library has feel of a Mohalla library. I sense that most of the visitors are from the neigborhood. It is deep inside 3D Nazimabad on a small road off 4th street. The library has a small garden on one side and is surrounded by street and houses from others.

We meet a gentleman there who has been helping librarian run operations of the library. The man is high in spirits and show us around instantly. The library is open from nine to six in the evening everyday except for Saturday and Sunday. All books except magazines and reference books can be issued. There is a staircase outside the hall which leads to first floor which is rather used for storage. There are lots of newspaper lying on 3-4 tables waiting to be archived. The library clearly does not have capacity to handle it on its own.

Al-Huda library is one of many municipal run libraries which struggle to remain relevant in present day Karachi. The issues that Al-Huda faces are similar in nature; inadequate funds for maintaining current stock, buying new books and magazines, arranging water and other amenities. While it is usual reaction to expect staff to do more, the whole proposition needs to be re-imagined which requires participation from experts in public and private sector. Most of library visitors in Al-Huda and other library are elders and it will require different kind of effort to attract millennial who have had different exposure to the world around them. Until then these libraries will survive only due to the commitment of staff that run them.

 

 

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Categories: City Libraries

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