Our Libraries Unlimited Programme (LU) has recently facilitated a study visit to the UK. Including staff members from the LU team, the visiting group consisted of seven higher-level government officials from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Bangladesh Shishu Academy and the Department of Public Libraries (DPL) of Bangladesh.
As a country, the UK has a long history of delivering a comprehensive and efficient public library service. The innovations, adaptations, community engagement and best practice are considered as examples for the rest of the world. The government delegates were taken to experience the contemporary library services in person. The aim of this visit was to experience good practice in the UK library sector and cascade innovative ideas back to Bangladesh.
The delegation was fascinated by the Library of Birmingham and its impressive music library. The British Library was an example of using library services to enhance business opportunities for the readers. During their visit to the Shakespeare’s birthplace on a traditional rainy day in the UK, the members appreciated the efforts in preserving the Shakespeare collection along with famous classics of Bangladesh. They even expressed their interest to contribute by adding some famous Bangladeshi books. The interactive learning methods available in the children libraries were another highly appreciated service. Our delegation observed the sensitivity of the UK libraries in adapting to the community needs and customisation of the services accordingly.
Through informal discussions during this study visit, these higher officials from Bangladeshi government expressed their interest in inclusion of necessary services and policy framework for the development of the library sector in Bangladesh. Our delegation also acknowledged, instead of direct replications, some of the available library services in Bangladesh can be customised to fulfil the needs of the reader community to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)s and Vision 2021 for Bangladesh.