City Libraries – Sehba Akhtar Library, Nazimabad

Sehba Akhtar Library is one of several well planned libraries honoring important literary figures. But that is past. It is in dismal condition now, just like other municipal libraries in Nazimabad, in Karachi. Present day Sehba Akhtar Library has a utility store running on its premises. It fares no better. Both library and utility store fail to attract any people.

Sehba Akhtar was one of many noted literary figures who migrated to Pakistan at the time of independence. He lived in Karachi and worked with Pakistani Cinema as well as published several poetry collections. A road and a library was named after him when he passed away in 1996 after brief illness.

Situated in Block 4 of Nazimabad, Sehba Akhtar Library has a large covered area. A utility store was built on one side of the plot but the remaining area is still large enough for a neighborhood library. There is a big hall at the entrance which connects all other rooms. We see two men basking in winter sunlight when we visit the library in December. They tell me that the library is open except for we don’t see a soul. There is a kids section on the right hand, another big hall which is scarcely furnished. A janitor torches a heap of fallen leaves outside in the patio and the entire room fills up with smoke. We seek refuge in another reading room which has some bookshelves and an attendant, an elderly sage. I am pretty sure that we are the first visitors that she has seen that day, or perhaps even longer. She has been associated with the libraries for many years and been diligently working her hours, except there is nothing much to do. She’s just counting hours turn into days and days summing up to her retirement age when she can take a break from a long and supposedly unfulfilling career.

There’s another room next to this reading room which has been locked up. It says that it is IT room and apparently there were plans to set it up as a resource center for youth in the neighborhood. However it has been locked for years. Someone tells me that a group of youngsters tried to revive the library in 2012 with the help of some funding from abroad. It revamped the library and raised the spirits of those associated with it for sometime but without interest from general public it slowly and gradually turned into a dysfunctional library soon. We have talked about it earlier also that the libraries cannot succeed without rethinking the whole proposition. Until then no investment can really help revive libraries such as this one.

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One Comment on “City Libraries – Sehba Akhtar Library, Nazimabad”

  1. S Zafar Iqbal
    February 4, 2019 at 4:03 am #

    Thank you for keeping us abreast of the status of libraries in Karachi. It is sad that there is no system in the government , or a social mechanism within the community to keep such institutions alive to serve the local community and the city at large.
    Something needs to be done to address this disturbing trend.

    Thank you again for bringing this situation to the attention of the Karachi citizens.

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