by AMIR MAJEED
Karachi University’s (KU) professors have started a campaign against the construction of a new library which they think may spoil the beauty of old library’s historic building.
As per details, KU has allowed the construction of a new research library dedicated to former vice chancellor (VC) Dr Jameel Jalibi to honour him for his services. The foundation stone of the new research library was laid down by Dr Jameel himself on August 14 this year.
The new library, which will house more than 100,000 books, historical documents, and academic manuscripts from Jalibi’s personal collection, will be completed within a span of eight months from the day its foundation stone was laid.
Few months back, Dr Jameel Jalibi’s son Khawar Jameel, Chairman of Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA), visited KU to announce the construction of a library in the name of his father who had served KU as VC.
“University management has welcomed the efforts of Jalibi’s son for construction of the new library and had earlier allocated him a space within the proposed project of Sardar Yaseen Malik within the campus, but then dramatically changed its mind and decided to, instead, allocate for the new project a space besides KU’s historic library” a teacher told this scribe.
“The Central library is housed in a unique building, resembling a huge ship, and was designed by a French architect,” the teacher said, adding that “not only is it located in the centre of the campus; it is, in fact, a hub of academic and research activities.”
“The library was founded in 1952, when KU was established,” the teacher maintained, adding that “In 1975, after the death of Vice Chancellor Dr Mahmud Husain, the library was named Dr Mahmud Husain Library in recognition of his services.”
“The library has a collection of more than 350,000 books and the same number of bound volumes of research and scientific journals. The library is also a UNO depositary centre,” he said, adding that “Its valuable collection of rare books and manuscripts consists of about 6000 volumes –some from the 16th century. The personal book collections of 46 scholars, writers and renowned academics are also the part of the library.”
He said most significant of all was the personal collection of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, housed in antique book cabinets received as a part of the collection.
“To accommodate the new library structure, the university has allowed cutting down of cherry trees which spoils this beautiful specimen of French architecture,” the teacher remarked.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Dr Waqar, faculty member of the varsity’s department of Environmental Studies, claimed that construction of new research library by cutting trees of cherry blossom without the approval of the syndicate is unlawful.
“For any new construction, the varsity must take the permission from the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) which after initial environmental exam allows construction work,” Dr Waqar said, adding that “The varsity didn’t take any permission from SEPA for cutting the trees for construction of new library.”
When visited, it was seen that work of transferring cherry blossom trees was in progress. The trees were put in open plots, but their condition was not very promising as they were 60-year old trees.
Karachi University Teachers Society (KUTS) President, Dr Shakeel-ur Rehman Farooqui when reached for comments, claimed that the varsity should have paid attention over its main library instead of allowing new research library besides the old one. He appreciated the move of teachers and claimed that it would prove as a positive step to stop ongoing unplanned construction.