THE ROLE OF LIBRARIES IN EDUCATION
‘Education’ and ‘library’ are two inseparable indivisible concepts, both being fundamentally and synchronically related to and co-existent with each other. One cannot be separated from the other, and the existence of one is an impossibility without the other. None of them is an end in itself, rather both of them together are a means to an ultimate end. One dies as soon as the other perishes. One survives as long as the other exists. This inter-relation, this co-existence, this dependence of one upon the other have been coming down from the birth of human civilization to the posterity through a process of evolution in accord with varied needs, changes, and circumstances of various stages of human life.
Education is an ‘aggregate of all the processes by means of which a person develops abilities, altitudes, and other forms of behavior positive value in the society in which he lives.’1 According to Carter V. Good it is a ‘social process by which people are subjected to the influence of a selected and controlled environment (especially that of the school ) so that they may attain social competence and optimum individual development. Education is thus the result of acquired knowledge and the cumulating of observations and experiences, while a library is both the fountain and source, and the protector and storehouse of that knowledge and experience. Education cannot exist alone in the absence of library, and library has no meaning if it cannot impart education. Education is an eye-opener to a human being ;it gives him perfect, adequate knowledge, creates civic and rational sense, withdraws him from the subjection of low habits, selfish passions, and ignoble pursuits, and thus educes him from abysmal darkness to limpid and perspicuous enlightenment, while library is an instrument of self-education, a means of knowledge and factual information, a centre of intellectual recreation, and a beacon of enlightenment that provide accumulated preserved knowledge of civilization which consequently enrich ones mental vision, and dignify his habit, behavior, character, taste, attitude, conduct, and outlook on life. Library makes available all the records of knowledge of the past and ‘present, whereas a man acquires that conserved knowledge to choose as between good and bad, the right or wrong, which distinguish him from the other animals who have no rational power or thinking.
A good well-equipped library is a sine qua non for the intellectual, moral, and spiritual advancement and elevation of the people of a community. It is an indispensable element of the absolute well-being of the citizens and that of the nation at large. People acquire education through certain institutions, schools, agencies, welfare bodies, museums, and organizations, and library is the most outstanding of such institution! A school, a club, an enterprise of a society can never alone impart education; each of them is dependent upon a library—a centre of wholesome education and the quencher of thirst for concrete, fathomless, ultimate knowledge!
Library does not mean merely a collection of books. It is a learned institution equipped with treasures of knowledge maintained, organized, and managed by trained personnel to educate the children, men and women continuously and assist in their self-improvement through an effective and prompt dissemination of information embodied in the resources. A research scholar can never successfully conduct his investigations and researches without the help of a library and a librarian. Librarian, as an “information officer” or a “scientific officer” possesses, of necessity, definite subject background and knows best the subject area to be covered by an investigator in his narrow field of the problem in hand that he wants to attack! He is a best teacher to guide him with all existing up-to-date possible sources including various articles in research journals, periodicals, etc., as well as the rare information available in rare books, microfilms, microfiche, manuscripts, and the like. He can guide him most effectively and comprehensively with the bibliographies, indexes, abstracts, data-books and such innumerable reference sources and bibliographical apparatus which the investigator might, otherwise, be unaware of. Here a professionally trained efficient librarian plays a most significant role in the achievement of modern scientific discoveries. The importance of an up-to-date library in the projection of research studies can thus be very scarcely overemphasized.
It is evident from the above that the different types of libraries play a significant role on different styles in educating the citizenry of a nation. The utility of a library in education can at once be felt and generalized particularly when we look into the educational conditions of the poor. The most flagrant aspect of the predicament of the poor people in Pakistan is that their children are subjected to woefully inefficient public education. The degree of reading retardation among the children of rejected and oppressed peoples throughout the nation is traumatically alarming. This is due to their poverty that culminates in their inability to purchase valuable books and also to bear heavy expenses of tuition fees, etc. With the help of the libraries we may very well lodge a “war” or campaign against this poverty for which the education has remained handicapped and limited to the people of the upper strata of our society. Libraries make available all the relevant books and other materials almost free of cost, and the children of the poor and the rich alike can derive equal amount of advantages out of this free service that helps in pursuing constructive education.
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