Library Education in Bangladesh: Strengths, Problems, and Suggestions

Article excerpt

Introduction

Libraries are important social institutions. No community is considered complete without a library. The spread of democracy, the extension of education, the intensification of research activities, and the rapid increase in the production of recorded knowledge, have led to the enormous expansion of libraries and the development of their services. The communication of ideas is one of the most significant achievements in the cultural development of the human race. The library one of many means of human communication (Johnson, 1973) and is an important centre for disseminating knowledge.

Library development in Bangladesh is closely related to the library movement in the Indian subcontinent. Libraries in India can be traced from the history of ancient Indian libraries furnished by the travel diary of the famous Chinese traveller Fa-Hien, who visited India in 399 AD (Mishra, 1979). The British settled and stayed on for nearly two hundred years, initially for trading. They subsequently started to establish academic institutions and libraries on a small scale (Kabir, 1987).

Bangladesh emerged as an independent and sovereign country in 1971. It had been part of India until August 1947 and part of Pakistan after that (Islam, 2003). Before the mid- 19 th century, most libraries in Bangladesh were privately owned and available to certain groups (Mannan and Begum, 2002). Years of effort by librarians and other concerned citizens have radically changed this insignificant role and have made the library a widespread and vital service institution. Just one year after the enactment of the public library act in the UK, the first non-government library of the Bangladesh was established at Jessore in 1851 (Alam, 1991). Thereafter, three other non-government public libraries--Woodburn Public Library at Bogra, Barishal Public Library at Barisal, and Rangpur Public Library at Rangpur were established in 1854 (Khan, 1984). During 1851-1955, a good number of private and non-government libraries were established. The first government public library was established in Dhaka in 1955, and opened to the public in 1958 (Foote, 1995). After 1955, the development of the library profession has been closely linked with the efforts made by the Library Association of Bangladesh (LAB) (formerly EPLA: East Pakistan Library Association) since its establishment in 1956 (Hossain, 1980). In 1952, library education in Bangladesh started with the 3-month certificate course-training program initiated by the central library of University of Dhaka (Mirdah, 1969). The University of Dhaka (est. 1921) is commonly referred as Dhaka University.

Methodology

The study is based on a comprehensive review of literature, computation of secondary information, and treatment of primary data collected by field visits to different library education institutions. This is the result of meticulous literature search, not only of published materials but also of all unpublished sources and archival reports and documents available. A number of institutions have also been visited to examine their situation. Conversation and informal interviews with leading library educators, eminent educators, and scholars interested in libraries and working library professionals were carried out.

Findings

Library education in Bangladesh has received very little attention, although libraries need dynamic people with the proper education to achieve their goals. Library science programs have not conducted surveys to determine the needs of the country's libraries and information centers, to determine the qualifications needed to staff such institutions.

Library Education

"Education" and "Library" are two indivisible concepts, fundamentally related to and co-existent with each other. Neither is an end itself; both together are a means to an ultimate end. One survives as long as the other exits. …