Pakistan Library Association

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It is said that a strong and representative library association is the main force behind recognition of librarianship as a profession. Its absence in many countries mars/delays attainment of professional status to librarianship as a profession. Pakistan also did not have any national library association at the time of its birth. Librarianship was in its infancy in 1947. A few qualified librarians migrated to Pakistan from India and started their efforts in this connection. But their voice could not be heard in the Government Circles nor did the Government feel any need to use their potentiality. The country was without a library system and national library was yet to emerge. Educational Institutions and some of the Government Departments had collections of books which were outdated. However, these were used without adequate library service. The students, teachers, writers, researchers and intellectuals were practically starving for library services. It was beyond the means of common people to purchase books or even magazines. The Government was not in a position to give serious consideration to this problem. The usual argument advanced in those days was lack of funds. The development of library services in a country requires the intellectual infrastructure in the form of men and women trained in library profession. The country was without such a base.

When Pakistan was partitioned, out of the British India as a sovereign Muslim State on August 14, 1947, the bibliotheca glory of Lahore – once called the Mecca of Librarians – tarnished: the riots that beset this famous cultural city even damaged the rich library collections. The Dickinson Library School at the University of the Punjab was closed; the Punjab Library Association with its organ,"Modern Librarian”, became defunct because of migration of its large number of Hindu members to India. Unlike Lahore, Karachi, then the founding capital of this new state, did not have any library glamour

Pakistan also did not have any national library association at the time of its birth. The Punjab Library Association which had a good name in the early years of the founding of Pakistan; it was called All Pakistan Library Association by some writers but it was completely localized. Abdul Moid in his report presented in the first annual conference of the Pakistan Library Association (PLA) Karachi, 1958 said: “The idea of a National Library Association first arose in early 1948, when the staff of the Punjab Public Library, Lahore assembled under the chairmanship of Khawaja Nur Elahi and drafted a scheme. The Association was formed which was local in scope, on the 6th June 1948, at the Islamia college, Lahore, with the late Dr. Khalifa Shujauddin as its first President”. The same author in November 1957, in his paper, presented at the inaugural conference of the Asian Federation of Library Association, as an official delegate of the Pakistan Library Association (PLA), who was also the co-editor of the “Modern Librarian” which publicized it as an official organ of the All Pakistan Library Association, however, calls this Association as Punjab Library Association. The official report of the West Pakistan Library Association (1962) with which name the Punjab Library Association was called after the unification of the provinces of the then Western part of Pakistan in 1954, as One Unit also traces its inception from the year 1948.

The localized nature of this Association perhaps came in its way of being called a national association and hence, the name of All Pakistan Library Association did not survive for long. Even the “Modern Librarian” the organ of Punjab Library Association could publish only three quarterly issues during December 1949 to July 1950.

By that time, Karachi had become more active in the library field due to posting of senior librarians in government services, to this city. The Karachi Library Association founded in 1949, also claimed in...
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