The number of regular students using Dhaka University central library has fallen drastically as irregular students and outsiders occupy most of the seats taking preparation for Bangladesh Civil Service and other job examinations.
Staff of the library said 10 years ago they used to issue 500 books in a day but now they issue only 20 to 30 books per day to the students using the library having 1,500 seats. An employee of the library, preferring anonymity, said the number of teachers and researchers using the library also shrank significantly.
Formerly, more than 50 teachers and researchers would receive at least 200 books every day but now only two to three teachers and researchers come to the library. Librarian SM Zabed echoed the staff and said though the number of books issued by the library decreased, he did not think the number of readers declined because a greater number of readers now enjoyed their e-library facility.
A number of regular students have complained that it has become increasingly hard to find a table for academic study because many students including irregulars and outsiders occupy the seats to prepare themselves for the Bangladesh Civil Service and other job examinations.
Muhaiminul Islam Sifat, a second year student of IER, said it was tough to manage a seat for study inside the library even as early as 8:00am when the BCS contenders queued up outside the library gate before it even opened.
Salman Ibn Mamun, a resident student of Suriya Sen Hall, said, ‘We suffer a lot as the dormitories lack a suitable atmosphere for studying and managing a seat in the library is also very tough.’
Former students and outsiders often keep the seats occupied, leaving no room for the regular students because there is no checking to prevent those without valid library cards from entering into the library, said Shahnaz Parvin Jonaki, a student of Institute of Education and Research of the university.
Librian SM Zabed admitted that there were not enough seats to meet the demand and the number of students increased several times but the number of seats remained the same. He, however, refused to accept that there was any problem with management. ‘We are going to launch an e-book corner in the library within a short time to enhance our facilities,’ he added.
Vice-chancellor AAMS Arefin Siddique, acknowledging the accommodation problem, gave assurances that immediate steps would taken to solve the crisis as soon as possible.
At present Dhaka University Library has 6,74,538 books and magazines. Besides, the library has 30,000 rare manuscripts and a large number of tracts, booklets, leaflets, pamphlets, and puthis which are preserved in microfilmed copies along with some rare books and documents which have been acquired from the British Museum but most of these valuable books remain unread.
However, Dhaka University Library was incorporated with Dhaka University on the 1st of July 1921. It began with 18,000 books inherited from the libraries of former Dhaka College and Dhaka Law College. F.C. Turner, the former principal of Dhaka College was the first librarian of the Dhaka University Library.
(This report first appeared in the Daily New Age)