If you can’t go to a library, then a library can come to you

Published: September 13, 2011

Saeed Malik displayed books from one of the Bright Star Mobile Libraries in Islamabad. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID

ISLAMABAD: 

Dreamers indeed have their unique ways of actualising their ambitions.

Saeed A. Malik decided to act on his dream of “educating the young generation and infusing them with knowledge” after serving as an international civil servant with  the United Nations for over 25 years. His aim was to provide children with books that entertain, inform, and evoke their curiosity; helping them develop awareness of the world around them, while fostering questioning minds and promoting tolerance.

Malik’s novel initiative comes as the launch of a mobile library for children, called the Bright Star Mobile Library (BSML). The library is presently established inside two vans that carry over 1,000 books and patrol primary and junior schools in the rural areas of Islamabad, keeping vigilant for prospective borrowers and learners.

Malik, the founder of BSML, said that according to a survey he conducted in schools of Islamabad Capital Territories (ICT), over 80 per cent of primary and junior schools of rural areas had no library facility for its students. BSML will bring library services to the door step of these schools and provide the students with access to books, developing and promoting reading habits among the youngsters right from the primary education level, said Malik.

“I had a choice to either live a luxurious life by spending the bulk of my pension or serve the country which has given me a lot. My motivation was to pay back my country with a new beginning,” said Malik. He said he was inspired by the Mobile Library of the San Francisco Public Library during a visit, and he decided to introduce a similar project in Pakistan to facilitate poor students. He returned to Pakistan and discussed the idea with his likeminded friends, whose support helped establish the BSML trust.

“The intention is not a business, but to contribute to society while understanding that education is the key to positive change,” he added.

BSML has start its activities by providing a mobile library facility to 14 government schools in rural areas of the capital, while complete activities will be formally launched by October this year. There are currently two mobile libraries set up in two vehicles donated by the World Food Program, in which volunteers of BSML visit schools turn by turn to teach schoolchildren how to read books.

To build interest in the students, BSML has started providing books with child interest, including storybooks, colouring books and singing books, among others. Presently the mobile library has 1,000 books while an additional 1,000 will be added by February.

Malik said that during his survey of schools in the rural areas of ICT, only 15 per cent of the schools had books, which remained locked in a small single cabin inside the offices of vice-principals.  “In our society, can any student dare to go to the vice principal’s office and read a book there?” he questioned.

Malik said that Asian Foundation, San Francisco Public Library and Pakistani civil society in the United States have promised full support for the cause. He also urged people who are retired from service and want to contribute towards the betterment of society to volunteer and fund the cause. He was hopeful that the project would be expanded in other parts of the country.

He also praised the support of government departments, except former Federal Directorate of Education Deputy General Shaheen Khan, who, “For the last six months, was reluctant to grant permission to mobile library team to visit schools”.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2011.

Correction: An earlier version of this story put the name of the founder, Saeed A. Malik as “Tahir Saeed,” the error is regretted.

Reader Comments (11)

  • Ishtiaer Hussain
    Sep 13, 2011 - 1:08PM

    GREAT, GREAT AND GREAT work by TAHIR SAEED SAHIB. Why so few comments on this story? People should read and comment on such articles more than they do on political trash stories.

    Recommend

  • Ishtiaer Hussain
    Sep 13, 2011 - 1:11PM

    It is people like Tahir Saeed who contribute to the progress and development of their societies. It is people like him who change their societies for the better. Thanks ET for highlighting such a great cause.

    Recommend

  • Jawad
    Sep 13, 2011 - 4:15PM

    great effort by a great soul, God bless you and keeping doing the great work…

    Recommend

  • Bilal
    Sep 13, 2011 - 7:25PM

    Sir you are the man. Respect.

    Recommend

  • Shehzil Malik
    Sep 13, 2011 - 8:32PM

    This happens to be my uncle, who we are all very proud of, but this article got his name wrong! It’s not “Tahir Saeed”, it is “Saeed A. Malik”.

    Recommend

  • alina husain
    Sep 18, 2011 - 8:09PM

    MashAllah. That is a GREAT contribution. I wish to do the same when i get big.

    Recommend

  • Haider Hussain
    Sep 24, 2011 - 9:58AM

    Wonderful and Great!!!!! Keep it up Sir….

    Recommend

  • Kelly
    Oct 10, 2011 - 6:57PM

    Bravo Bravo !!! to Mr Malik ,his lovely wife and all the others who helped him with this project!

    I encourage everyone to gather up those books they have sitting around gathering dust and donate them to this worthy cause.

    Reading is one of the most empowering gifts anyone can give.

    For the Malik family to make this their cause and to donate their time and money shows an understanding of what is needed and sets an example for all of us.

    Thanks again to the Maliks and others.

    I look forward to contributing and hope many will join this noble effort.
    I hope the Peer Muhammad (and others) will do follow up articles.

    The contact information of this organization for people who want to donate and volunteer.
    brightstarlibrary.com
    For any further information regarding this project, please don’t hesitate in contacting:
    Em@il: brightstarlibrary@gmail.com
    Mobile:
    From Within Pakistan: 0300-852-7210
    From Outside Pakistan: +92-300-852-7210

    Recommend

  • MUHAMMAD SAJID
    Oct 12, 2011 - 5:56PM

    great efforts sir jee. MASHA ALLAH

    Recommend

  • MUHAMMAD SAJID
    Oct 12, 2011 - 5:57PM

    Great efforts Sir jee MASHAALLAH

    Recommend

  • Oct 30, 2011 - 10:15PM

    Having known Saeed Malik for many years I am not really surprised. Yet, I am deeply impressed with endevour and offer my heartfelt wishes for a strong and healthy growth.

    Recommend

More in Books