Local libraries needs to upgrade and add new layers in order to invite more readers – said the policy forum attendees held this month at Chittagong.
The participants of the event included librarians, library users, youth (active citizens, students and job seekers), school teachers, head master, NGO workers, researcher, housewife, senior citizen etc.
How to deal with advancement of internet?
Statements about lack of interest in library among young generation because of aggressive use of social media and overall technology came from the senior participants. Lack of variety in content, older edition of text books, lack of skill among library staffs, overall infrastructure of the library were mentioned as the culprit.
Why are there fewer readers?
Some of the audiences shared that they were at the library for the first time and they had trouble finding it. Aiming to improve this condition, the participants suggested that libraries need to re-brand itself through eloquent decoration, include e-books, relax membership process, increasing books of renowned foreign authors in updated edition, more resources on job preparation & recruitment, latest novels, showing documentary movies or facilities for showing movies (projector, multimedia facilities) etc.
It was suggested that with photocopy machine, computers, IPS-generator facility, food & water at readers’ disposal and 24×7 service to ensure an uninterrupted access to information, libraries can become a ‘one stop service’.
How to attract new visitors?
While discussing how to attract new visitors, there was quite a debate about the usage of internet. Some fear youth will spend more time on social media platform or access inappropriate sites. Although others suggested that to attract more people libraries have to approach a demand based service, internalizing the demand for socialization by incorporating internet and computer facility, kids zone to support mothers, book reading competition, audio-visual content for uneducated & disable person and discussion zone to turn libraries into a social hub.
However, the digitization should be monitored through establishing policy and conducting workshop on internet literacy.
How to connect with people?
In order to build an inclusive community, participants suggested that libraries need to outreach to the marginal population by – building online resource centers that can be accessed from remote villages, renting public spaces to create temporary library, build libraries in every education institutions and involve local voluntary organizations & NGOs in mobilizing the library etc.
Nearly all participants agreed that in order to build a well informed and educated knowledge based society, we need to embed the habit of using library into younger generation from an early age. Education providers need to be engaged by handing out school children assignments requiring them to go to the public library, look for a specific topic to make a project or write an essay around it. But most importantly, parents need to play a vital role in encouraging children to look beyond text books. Over all, a new image branding is highly suggested to make libraries relevant again to the new generation.