Public Library Timergara – a heaven for book lovers

Wasim Sajjad

TIMERGARA: Neil Gaiman says, “A library is a place that is a repository of informations and gives every citizen equal access to it. That includes health and mental health informations. It's a community space. It's a place of safety, a heaven from the world.” Such a heaven, a public sector library ‘Archives Public Library Timergara’, lies right in the heart of a far flung war torn district, Dir Lower, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which is the only public sector library in the whole district situated at Shaheed Square, Timergara and is easily accessible to book lovers.

The library establishment was a dire need of the time at the district and in 2009 a structure was built, but, the flooding in 2010 demolished the structure. Later on, in 2013, the library was formally inaugurated. Since 2013, the library’s infrastructure has been developed and all kinds of books and reading materials are available for the readers.  

According to the officials of the library, the building area consisted of three-kanal and books were available of all types but the readers love to read progressive books, adding that the people, especially, the students were interested in books related to competitive exams.  

Women are a big part of population of the district and it is believed that educating a female is actually educating a family. In addition, it is also said that cradle is the first seminary for a child. Despite this importance of women’s education, in Dir Lower, females go to colleges and universities but unfortunately they do not visit a library for a healthy reading purpose. It is assumed that usually females from the far flung districts like Dir don’t go to such places, but it is not astonishing what Muhammad Ibrahim, the in-charge of the Archives Public Library Timergara told this scribe, “In the past females wouldn’t visit library at all but we sent letters to the nearby colleges and universities for inviting female students towards library and as a result, they started visiting library and now female students do visit on regular bases.”

It is a milestone that must be shared with the public that the in-charge of the Library confirmed that 30 female students of a local government post-graduate girls college visited the library and did their registration. He was unhappy about having everything at our rooms, offices, guestrooms, houses and homes, but not a book. However, he was satisfied that each and every day the libraries were developing and the number of readers was increasing.

To know about the situation of library culture at Dir Lower, a regular reader and member of this very library, Nafees Ahmad Shinwari told this scribe that he was a frequent visitor of the library since 2015. “When I used to come in 2015, the readers would not exceed 4 or 5, but now people come in quite a good number.” He also informed that the timings of library used to be 9:00 am – 4:00 pm for 5 days a week which was not satisfactory but now, it was increased from 9:00 am – 8:00 pm 7 days a week.  He stated ahead that he was very happy as he had got good friends and the library had made his studies easy.

When this scribe asked Murad Ali Mohmand, Regional Director, National Book Foundation, he said that he was totally against the narrative that book reading culture was on decline, adding that the NBF organised 150-200 book fairs each year in the different districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He was very happy and exclaimed that people of Dir, Swat and the erstwhile FATA love book reading and buy books.

However, he expressed sorrow that he was working for the last 19 years with the NBF and no government had taken solid steps for reading culture and even it is not the mandate of the government to take an initiative to establish a reading culture among the people. He had a suggestion that the government should order the conduction a 30 minutes reading session compulsory in every week for the education people.

Gadgets and social media are also playing a key role in the reduction of reading habit. It is the least reliable source of information. Most of the people waste their time playing with the gadgets.

Ibad Ullah, who is a lecturer at the NUML, Peshawar said, “People spend most of their time with their gadgets and are busy in social media. They need extensive reading habits, motivation and reinforcement.”

Instead of wasting time with the people and things of no importance, it is better to invest time on ourselves. If we want to explore the world and understand the miracles of God, we have one path i.e. reading. Let’s motivate our children and students to read at least a page each day if can’t more.

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