Exclusive Interview: with Mr Ahmed Shibly, Senior Assistant Chief, Ministry of Cultural Affairs
“Libraries should have digitised collections and access facilities like other developed nations. And librarians should play the pioneering role in making this happens.” –Ahmed Shibly
Mr Ahmed Shibly, Senior Assistant Chief, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Government of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh has been working in the ministry as a planning professional. His main role includes approval process and monitoring of development projects of Department of Public Libraries besides few other departments. Mr Shibly was a student of Rangpur Cadet College. Then he studied in Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi and obtained Bachelor and Master degree. In the 24 BCS, he was selected for Economic Cadre.
The Librarian Times (TLT) team met him in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during the 84th annual congress of IFLA and spent some time with ‘The Librarian Times’. The team had some discussion on contemporary issues of the public library sector. He talked about his experiences and other several burning issues.
TLT: Tale us something more about yourself, and how long have you been working with the public libraries in Bangladesh?
Mr Shibly: I have been working in the ministry for almost six years. By this time, I had some experience in dealing with some development projects and small-scale skims of the Department of Public Libraries (DPL). In short, these projects were mostly on infrastructure development and capacity development of various libraries.
TLT: The Ministry of Cultural Affairs has been working several projects for the development of Public Libraries in Bangladesh. Would you please share with us about these projects?
Mr Shibly: At present, DPL is implementing three development projects. One of them is on the construction of six public libraries with the necessary equipment in different districts. Except for these six, there are government public libraries in all districts in the country. Another is on modernizing a big and historical library named Muslim Institute at Chattogram. It will be a cultural complex of the city includes almost all related facilities. And the other project is on capacity building of the head office and some other district libraries for management of libraries through online technology.
TLT: What kind of limitations and challenges you have been experiencing in the library sectors and what are the possible solutions to overcome these challenges?
Mr Shibly: This is quite difficult for me to define the challenge as I am not an expert. To my view, libraries may not be meeting the requirements of the new generation. Library users are not increasing remarkably. I think students (school or college level) are now too much engaged with their academic purpose. Though the government is trying to increase facilities to encourage reading participation is not increasing in pace.
TLT: With the Memorandum of understanding (MoU) of Libraries Unlimited (LU) project, Ministry of Cultural Affairs is playing a vital role including LU projects supported by Melinda Gates Foundation, so we are lucky enough for availing this. Do you think it will sustain and our society will get benefit from it?
“The project is aimed to convert 25 existing libraries to model libraries. The project is still in the implementation phase. Hopefully, we will get modern
and dynamic libraries after the completion of the project and our society can take more benefits from it.”
Mr Shibly: The project is aimed to convert 25 existing libraries to model libraries. The project is still in the implementation phase. Hopefully, we will get modern
and dynamic libraries after the completion of the project and our society can take more benefits from it.
TLT: You are not library professionals but working with library people. What are your feelings? Do you enjoy working with library people?
Mr Shibly: Libraries are sacred places. Generally, a library is a calm & quiet place. I found people working in libraries are gentle & good. Yes, I do enjoy working with library professionals.
TLT: Tell us any of the success stories on library despite that you were involved from the behind?
“Our libraries have been implementing a book reading program which has a positive impact on readers. It is a kind of book review activities.”
Mr Shibly: Our libraries have been implementing a book reading program which has a positive impact on readers. It is a kind of book review activities. Readers have the opportunity to take part in the competition and can know a book more profoundly.
TLT: Please give us your insight on how we the library professionals can play our roles towards “Digital Bangladesh?
Mr Shibly: Insight is a tough word which I don’t have. Libraries play a fundamental role in our society. But, I think, we have to increase participation from the local community. And librarians may think to interact with & involve cultural organizations like Shilpakala Academy so that they can organise some events together. They may find some common platforms. Libraries should have digitised collections and access facilities like other developed nations. And librarians should play the pioneering role in making this happens.
TLT: Thank you for giving time to TLT
Mr Shibly: Thanks. I wish success of TLT.