It was heartening to learn from a report in this newspaper that a councillor at Shibalaya Model Union in Manikganj has set up a library in his community so that people in his locality can nurture their habit of reading and become ideal citizens. At a time when we are being increasingly frustrated with all the negative incidents happening in our society, this 40- year-old councillor has shown us what we can still do at the individual level to make our country a better place.
There was a time when well-to-do people of society used to set up libraries in their own locality but that culture has changed with time. Currently there are only 68 government public libraries, 1,603 non-government public libraries and 3,596 NGO-operated libraries in Bangladesh, according to a recent study. Compared to our population, the number is too little. No wonder that the number of readers has decreased in the country. And with the arrival of smart phones and other new technologies, the reading habit of people, especially our younger generation, has also declined.
The library, founded in 2006 by Rafiqul Islam, has around 10,000 books and its collection ranges from literature, history, science to journalism, law, children's books. It has become very popular among the locals as it has something for the readers of all ages. We believe, Rafiqul's initiative will inspire others. And if we can instil the habit of reading in our younger generation, they will be less likely to get addicted to drugs or fall into the trap of militancy. Most of all, if we want to build a knowledge-based society, there is no alternative to setting up more libraries.