The British Council has recently conducted a nationwide research on Library and Information Services (LIS) called A Library Landscape Assessment of Bangladesh. To share the findings of this study with the key stakeholders a high-level symposium was held in the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, Dhaka, from 12 to 13 May 2015.
The British Council has initiated this study to explore both the information needs of the people of Bangladesh and the current LIS provision within the country, with an aim to identify the opportunities and challenges that exist within the sector and to recommend ways to improve the situation across the country. The symposium is supported by the Government of Bangladesh, BRAC and the Bengal Foundation.
Asaduzzaman Noor MP, Honourable Minister of Cultural Affairs, has inaugurated the symposium as the Chief Guest. In his inauguration speech the minister said, “When I think about libraries, I think about more than just a shelf with books on it. I see libraries as a ‘safe space’ for education, culture, entertainment, and access to information. Libraries, essentially, are much more than just books”. Emphasizing on the modern day technology, he added- “It’s time for our library services to adapt to the new reality of the 21st Century. In this age of the smartphone, tablet, and Wi-Fi, we must provide our citizens with digital access to resources. Physical books will continue to be a vital resource, but they are only the tip of the information iceberg”.
Given the timeliness of this issue and this topic’s centrality to the Government of Bangladesh’s ambition of a “Digital Bangladesh” by 2021, the symposium attracted participants keen to actively share their views and opinions with a broad range of stakeholders engaged in the LIS sector. By bringing together a group of high-level and engaged stakeholders, the primary expected outcome of the discussions is to align and mobilise the sector towards interventions that will reinvent libraries and see access to information transformed across Bangladesh.
The British Council libraries, which have been here in Bangladesh for more than 60 years, are providing a state-of-the-art access to both physical and digital information. Their libraries are convening spaces where people meet to exchange ideas, to participate in a wide verity of exciting events and activities, and also to enjoy the arts and the culture. The British Council libraries are an excellent example of a 21st Century library service.
Mark Clayton, Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission in Bangladesh was present as the Special Guest. The symposium had participants representing ministries and other governmental organisations, international development organisations, professional library organisations, cultural organisations, Universities, the private sector, and civil society organisations.