In collaboration with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Public Libraries, the British Council Libraries Unlimited Programme has organised a policy workshop in Dhaka, titled ‘Policy Workshop on the Formulation of a National Policy for Public Libraries’ on 11 December 2019. The objective of this workshop was to review the draft policy for public libraries and collect recommendations from stakeholders. 

The first policy workshop took place in April 2019 with most of the same participants, where they offered their expertise for the formulation of a draft national policy. Based on the input from the first workshop, the Department of Public Libraries and the British Council have worked together to draft the policy. During the day-long workshop in December, the stakeholders and participants reviewed the draft and suggested modifications and recommendations. The policy workshop was attended by over 100 participants. 

Dr Abdul Mannan Ilias, Director General, Department of Public Libraries and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Cultural Affairs presided over the workshop's inaugural ceremony while Dr. Md. Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal, NDC, Secretary, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, attended as the chief guest. Tom Miscioscia, Director Bangladesh, British Council, and Mr A J M Abdullahel Baki, Director (Joint Secretary), Department of Public Libraries attended the workshop as special guests.  Andrew Newton, Deputy Director, British Council also attended the closing session of this policy workshop as a special guest.

In his keynote speech, Dr Md Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal stated, “Although we already have a National Public Library Policy in effect, it is necessary to develop a comprehensive policy for the public libraries to meet the requirements of the 21 century Bangladesh.” Mr Kamal also advised the Department of Public Libraries to revise the draft policy and send it to the ministry. He expressed his enthusiasm to take the next possible actions to develop a timely and effective public library policy within the shortest possible time. 

The draft policy has been developed on the basis of research, expert opinions, and recommendations of the policy technical team and over 1000 stakeholders, as confirmed by Mr A J M Abdullahel Baki, who is also the head of the working committee to prepare a draft.

The national-level policy workshop was the part of an ongoing process for the formulation of a national policy for the public libraries of Bangladesh. In the next stage, the British Council will support the Department of Public Libraries to incorporate stakeholders’ feedbacks and forward those to the department later on for their final review.