Universities are the apex educational and research institutions of a country. Research and innovations are the principal standards to determine the sustainable development of a state. To this end, the universities pave the pathways to stir up all the ingredients to carry on these modus operandi. The university produces brilliant minds to turn the wheel of development to evolve around the constant trek of human civilization. Here brilliant minds refer to the community of intellectuals who lead the foundation of an advanced and progressive society with their philosophies and wisdom.
Since the university is considered the home of scholars and researchers, the library is undoubtedly the nucleus of all research and academic endeavors. Former Indian president Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan regarded the library as the heart of any institution that motivates learners, researchers, and academicians to be part of educational transcendence by creating new knowledge and ideas beneficial to human society.
The library creates a nexus between readers and books by providing relentless accessibility to the universe of knowledge and information. Therefore, an institution without a library is like a human body without a soul. At the university level, the library or Knowledge Resource Center (KRC) plays a significant role in accomplishing the mission and vision of the university education system. However, to make the learners and other stakeholders well acquainted with the library and ensure the best utility of all the research contents and resources, library education needs to be introduced from the primary to the tertiary levels.
In Bangladesh, library education started its journey before its independence as a field of study at Dhaka University. After the liberation, library science courses have transformed into a separate independent discipline and are taught in many public and private universities to produce expert library and information science professionals. Unlike many advanced and developing countries, library education is still absent at the secondary and intermediate levels. Regardless of the faculty of library and information science, no other disciplines offer library-related courses at the tertiary level as well.
As the library is an integral part of higher education, the inclusion of library science-related courses in every field of study will enable learners, educators, and scholars to exploit research materials and other sources of knowledge promptly and conveniently from the library and information center. Library and information science professionals can play crucial roles in this regard by formulating short courses on library science and information literacy to make libraries the ultimate destination for education and research.
The focal point of education at the primary, secondary and higher secondary levels is premised entirely upon learning and teaching. Regardless of learning and teaching, higher education pays more attention to the creation of new knowledge or ideas, and libraries in this communication facilitate the academicians and researchers with all the resources to carry on research and other creative endeavors. Hence, the importance of libraries and information centers at the university level is felt more intensely compared to school level and students, teachers, scholars, and other stakeholders must have a concrete understanding of the library resource and services.
Higher education in advanced and developing countries is mainly library oriented. Here, academicians, researchers, and students go to the libraries to fulfill their academic and professional requirements, and expert librarians assist them in getting the exact research documents and other necessary information on demand.
Besides, academic librarians oversee research and academic programs. They guide research scholars to accomplish their Ph.D. and MPhil research. Ill luck would have it, this scenario is absent in the university or college libraries in Bangladesh. The lack of education and training about libraries and information centers makes the mission of higher education shaky on the way to fulfilling quality education and lifelong learning programs.
For the last couple of decades, the long queue of students standing in front of the libraries with stacks of job-related books and fighting for a seat to go deep into the world of BCS and other competitive exams has become an everyday phenomenon at university libraries in Bangladesh. The majority of students are unaware of what an academic library is there for. Many students are unaware of how a library’s reference department, circulation section, or other sections operate. Even in many cases, it won’t be an inconceivable incident if some students never set foot in a library during their time at university or read a book in a calm library setting.
Last but not least, many academics and research scholars have no sound knowledge about the library and foster a narrow mindset regarding the library and information science professionals. Therefore, the introduction of library-related courses in every field of study can help them explore the realm of knowledge and enable them to find out their required research materials or items of knowledge promptly and conveniently.
The Bangladesh government fights tenaciously to guarantee a sustainable education system in order to invigorate the journey of smart Bangladesh by launching a transformation to meet the potential challenges. This fight is necessary for Bangladesh to compete with the developed and developing nations. We can have a sustainable tertiary education system that propels the country toward longer-lasting progress and prosperity if our policymakers pay attention to the formalization of library culture through formal education in library science.
Aktarul Islam Library Professional, Researcher and Poet.