There are lots of matters to be highly critical of the westerners, no doubt about this. But one thing you cannot ignore which is the importance they give upon reading books. So far I knew from my reading, watching movies or talking on-net or off-net with any European that having a personal or a family library is not surprising to them at all.
It is a natural affair for not only the intellectuals, government officials, teachers and students to have their own libraries but every common man and woman has a library of their own with whatever collection they have. Every year there come a dozens of best seller books on diverse genres. Best seller means the book which is sold couple of millions copy unlike 50 thousand or 1lac copies of Humayun Ahmed or Zafar Iqbal in Bangladesh. Even a common civilian with a common job is seen to read on the way, in bus, car or train. We rarely see this picture in Bangladesh.
We talk about a lot many things: we need food to live, house to stay, hospital to get treatment, state to save us but we must not forget the value of reading and the utility of having a library of one's own in one's family. To live perfectly we must have to have an active mind, stout thinking and books play the vital role in that kind of living. Books have a healing quality; it can cure many weaknesses; both physical and mental.
Without focusing on developing this habit both in personal and social level we may prosper materially but spiritually and intellectually we will be barren and all our material progress will one day crash down with all its trophies.
Now, we must agree with our financial constraints for which it is not always possible for all of us to have a library of our own. But government and conscious sections of society can do a lot of things; from establishing libraries in the remote corners of the country, activating and mobilizing those, inspiring people and taking all the necessary steps to make this country a forward moving one and its people a knowledge seeker nation.
And, we, as human beings also should rise and move towards developing and sharpening our reading habit. If we think we have a lack in our collections of books or lack of coins in the purse to buy books then library should be our place of regular visits. Actually, it depends upon the thirst of a person. S/he will go and find the right kind of books on the way if s/he searches hard. We can make coming to library a part of our culture. What a great profit it will bring to our nation if we become successful in doing this noble task!
We, some enthusiastic and passionate readers who founded Bangladesh Study Forum (BDSF), are trying in our personal level and organizational level to introduce this library culture. There are so many independent readers who come to library individually or a small group level. We want to make it a bit organized and include more people in this process. That is why we consider 'library culture' is the most important project of BDSF.
We want to make coming to library to study a part of our culture. Our members are competing with each other in this business. We motivate our members awarding prizes on their performance. For example, the member who will come to the library maximum days will be awarded with prizes. For it we have so many candidates! Some of our members never missed any working day of the library. Now, we focus on our new members to come to the library as much as possible. They are at liberty whatever they wish to read. Coming to the library and making it a habit is must for the beginners not the amount of time and contents s/he reads. After making it a part of their habit and life style we will focus on the content of study and will provide them with necessary guidelines.
We have some senior members who are expert in a particular field on their own. Junior readers can take help from them. They go through an intensive care with an expert reader and learn all the details of reading, methods of reading etc. After that the readers are supposed to make library their second home where they are expected to pass a good amount of time.
We do not have any standing office like other clubs, organizations or forums and we do not want any in near future as well. Dhaka University Central Library is our headquarters and all other libraries across the globe are our branch offices, our places of pilgrimage.
We are strict to our members and if anyone does not follow the lifestyle of reading club, s/he cannot represent study forum. If they represent, they will only misrepresent. As reading is a serious and noble business, BDSF strictly avoids such misrepresentations and the persons. All the core readers are expected to follow the lifestyle that BDSF propagates, envisions, desires and runs after. A typical day of a reader begins with coming to the library very early in the morning with rejuvenating spirit, strong heart, and unquenchable thirst to read more and learn newer things.
You all are invited to join this knowledge movement and the movement to introduce library as an inseparable part of our culture. We can contribute from anywhere of the country. We can work individually, separately or in a small group in making this thing possible. We all are different petals of the same flower called Bangladesh and working for the betterment of it from different levels we can certainly make it more beautiful.
Sabidin Ibrahim works at Bangladesh Study Forum. E-mail: [email protected]