KARACHI: Behind the heavy antique wooden doors of the Oxford University Press (OUP) head office, there was a buzz of excitement on Tuesday - the entrance was lined by members of a musical band, holding bagpipes in anticipation of the esteemed guests which included academics, authors, heads of educational institutions and other book enthusiasts.
OUP celebrated its 60 years of publishing in Pakistan with the inauguration of its Oxford Mobile Library and Oxford University Press Pakistan Museum and Archives. The publishing house also launched The Class Structure of Pakistan authored by Taimur Rahman, who teaches Political Science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. The book examines the history of the regions constituting Pakistan. It analyses the class structure from the Mughal era, traveling through the distortions of the colonial era and the transition to capitalism, to the class structure of contemporary Pakistan.
According to the OUP Pakistan Managing Director Ameena Saiyid, the mobile libraries, which are part of an outreach initiative, aim to encourage readings habit among underprivileged kids. Starting with two, the mobile libraries will visit around 20 schools in areas with low income households. By paying Rs10 per month, children can become members which will entitle them to borrow one book each of English and Urdu for two weeks. “I hope this initiative will be helpful in instilling a reading habit among children who’ve had little exposure to books so far,” said Saiyid.
As for the museum and archives, Saiyid said that the project was launched keeping in mind the need to preserve history and heritage for future generations. “The 60 years milestone was a good time to pay tribute to those who have helped build OUP Pakistan, including its managers, staff, and authors,” she said. Perhaps the most valuable launch was of the archives which house a rich collection of letters from famous personalities and authors, such as Sir Percival Spear, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Ayub Khan, Olaf Caroe and others.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2012.