In search of readers: Books go places
ISLAMABAD, March 18: Books travelling in search of readers sounds odd but the National Book Foundation (NBF)’s idea is working. Its recent ‘Books on Wheel’ visit to the Quaid-i-Azam University left some students thirsty for books.
“There were 60 titles that they wanted and we did not have them,” NBF’s deputy director Murad Ali told Dawn, looking happy more for arousing interest in book reading than the Rs49,000 sales the road show at the university made in three days.
“We will revisit the university next month with the titles that are available in Karachi office. In fact, we are encouraged to coax students of other institutions in similar fashion – through the ‘Books on Wheel’,” he said, rueing the decline in reading habit in the society, particularly among the youth.
Dr Azra Raza, a distinguished Pakistani who teaches medicine and is a researcher in cancer of world fame, had stressed the same in her address at the convocation of the Islamabad College for Girls F-7/2 on Friday. She said she owed her success to the
teachers who inculcated in her reading habit when she was a student in the same college 40 years ago.
But Murad Ali’s regret is that though NBF has outlets in almost every big city of the country, very few benefit from them.
“So, we decided to take books on wheels to educational institutes and, on holidays, to parks and recreational places to attract people to books. We have deputed six employees to manage the road show from 10am to 8pm.” People have certainly been taking interest in the NBF venture.
“It is a great idea,” said a visiting professor at QAU, Mr Javed Iqbal, about his experience with the ‘Books on Wheel’.
“I found there some books which I had read when I was a student.
Memories came rushing back to me, not just of the books’ contents but of old friends, combined studies and arguments of those days. So I purchased some books as I want to go through them to recall all what I had learnt in my past,” he said.
Riaz Khan, a student of MPhil, felt excited when he heard that a vehicle will be coming to QAU with thousands of books. “I was glad to see it and purchased one. But the book I was looking for was not there,” he said.
Still he praised the idea and wanted the show to be taken to all parts of the city “for the benefit of students and children”.
People can buy books – at 20 per cent discount – or read them at the mobile book reading facility – Travellers Book Club – that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had inaugurated on Feb 27.
NBF has books on poetry, fiction, history, philosophy, education, religion, children and women issues on offer. The interior of the vehicles is carpeted and has a chair or two for those who want to enjoy reading there.