LAHORE: The British Council on Friday launched a new network of libraries across the country at a ceremony in the city. The ceremony was attended by British Council Chief Executive Sir Ciaran Devane, British High Commissioner in Pakistan Thomas Drew, Schools Education Minister Rana Mashhood and Higher Education Minister Zakia Shahnawaz.
Speaking at the ceremony, British Council officials said the aim of the project was to renovate and revolutionise the council’s libraries in accordance with latest trends in the field. They said the digital library resources available at the British Council would bring together a vast range of content from the United Kingdom and Pakistan to the consumers.
Speaking at the ceremony, Sir Ciaran Devane said, “the British Council is a global organisation but its approach is customised in accordance with local needs. Our library in Lahore is a testament to our commitment to promoting knowledge.”
He said the British Council libraries would strive to become cultural hubs where exchange of creativity, connectivity and ideas could take place.
School Education Minister Rana Mashhood said, “Lahore has historically been a hub for dialogue among people from different backgrounds and promotion of creative expression.” He said the city boasted of spaces like Pak Tea House where there was no bar on expression of ideas. He said the provincial government looked forward to collaborating with the British Council and to benefit from its library resources. British High Commissioner in Pakistan Thomas Drew said that the new libraries to be set up in Lahore and Karachi and the digital library would not just offer English language books and other print and digital material but also help strengthen ties between the two countries. “The British Council libraries have a fabulous legacy in Pakistan. I am delighted to see the reopening of the new library in Lahore,” he said.
Higher Education Minister Zakia Shahnawaz shared her childhood experience of visiting the British Council library. She said she hoped that the youth would benefit from resources available to them at the library. In her recorded message to the audience, documentary maker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy said that one of her fondest memories from her childhood days in Karachi was visiting the British Council library. “I would be excited to find new books at the library every week. I was extremely sad when the British Council closed down the library. It makes me excited to hear that the British Council is reopening its library.
The audience was told that the renovated libraries would not just be ‘book places’ but ‘convening places’. The organisers said a comprehensive programme of events would be planned for the library to engage a broad audience. They said the purpose of these programmes would be generation of new ideas and bringing different people and communities together in a safe cultural setting.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2016.