On February 1, hundreds of people flocked to the Shibbari More in Khulna city to participate in Book Road Khulna, a donation drive initiated by Facebook groups Book Bank and Entertainment All In One. The event provided the bookworms of Khulna with a unique opportunity to share their books with the community.
The Facebook groups helped spread the word about the donation, and student volunteers picked up the books from 10 pick-up points across the city and also through a virtual live donation campaign.
Mohammed Moinul Islam Shantonu, a veteran, donated more than 200 books from his collection containing some of the rarest and oldest books of Bangladesh.
Talukder Abdul Khaleque, Mayor of Khulna City Corporation, inaugurated the event as the chief guest and was presented with Satish Chandra Mitra's Jessore O Khulnar Itihash (1914) from Moinul Islam's collection.
Anju Ara first came up with the idea of a book sharing platform. Within 15 days, with the help of Entertainment All In One group Khulna and the supervision of Md Riyadh Ahmed, the event was put together. "There are blood banks so that everyone has easy access to blood when it is needed, so I thought, why not a book bank? Books are an integral part of our lives and so we should be sharing these treasures among other people," Riyadh told The Daily Star. "A lot of people in our country don't have access to books due to financial hardships. We aim[ed] to bridge this gap through the act of sharing."
All kinds of books including textbooks, novels, short story collections, and poetry collections were displayed at the event—a total of 5,000 books, all of which were collected through donations. Multiple families came forward to share books from their personal collections. And because the government could not distribute textbooks this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of students were able to find necessary textbooks donated by other students.
"Ordinary footpaths are flooded by books," Rafiz Siddique, a Khulna-dweller, described in a public post on Facebook. "There are books on the walls, on the sidewalk, on top of manhole covers. People are picking up the books they like or leaving others behind. What a wonderful sight it was!"
"Many people contacted us and shared their need for a certain book and later we successfully provided them with what they needed," added Riyadh.
Volunteers have also collected contact information from participants in an effort to continue the initiative beyond the book fair—individuals who have finished reading certain books can pass them on to others, so that everyone gets an opportunity to access the books they need.
"After we are done reading a book, we usually keep it aside in a corner. If we can share these books among others who can't afford them, our society will prosper in the long run," Riyadh said. "We started a movement around books and we hope to continue this further to enlighten people from all walks of life to read more and share more."
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