On March 19, 2019 the formal inauguration programme of the year-long Public Library Campaign “Cholo Gronthagare Cholo, Dekhi Somvabonar Alo” by British Council's Libraries Unlimited Programme and the Department of Public Libraries was held at the conference room of the Sufia Kamal National Public Library, Dhaka.
Under this new campaign they aim to educate the people in 25 districts of Bangladesh regarding the location of and the services available at government libraries. They plan to create an interactive relationship between the locals of the districts and the library staff, generate demand among locals for services provided by the libraries and get them invested in the process of the development of the libraries. They aim to achieve this by conducting two-day-long gala events at each district. Event dates and other details will be available on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/publiclibrarycampaign
At the inauguration, Ashish Kumar Sarker, Director General of the Department of Public Libraries and Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs was present as the chief guest; Barbara Wickham, Country Director, British Council Bangladesh and Abdullah Harun Pasha, Director, Department of Public Libraries and Joint Secretary, Ministry of Cultural Affairs were present as guests of honour. A.J.M. Abdullahil Baki, Director, Department of Public Libraries and Joint Secretary, Ministry of Cultural Affairs conducted the event. Among others, Kirsty Crawford, Programme Director of British Council's Libraries Unlimited Programme and other staff members of British Council were also present.
Barbara Wickham in her speech invited locals to join the campaign saying, “This is an open invitation for the people of these 25 campaign districts. I would like for them to come and join us in the campaign to explore libraries in a new light.”
Chief guest Ashish Kumar Sarker mentioned that the campaign will inform people about the new products and services available in government public libraries such as free computer and internet facilities for the users, arrangements for learning computer coding and programming for students and facilities to learn and play with toy bricks for the cognitive development of children. He claims that “this campaign will generate at least 5 lakh new library users in just one year”.
Kirsty Crawford shared that they are “introducing customer Wi-Fi in all 64 government public libraries, and have donated almost one hundred computers for public use”.
Regarding their public relations strategy, Zinat Ara Afroze, Development Communications Specialist of the British Council's Libraries Unlimited Programme stated, “To engage the population of these 25 campaign districts we have developed this very special campaign mnemonic.” Their short audio visual on this campaign is also expected to inspire people to use the government public libraries. Alongside their other efforts, a social media campaign is being conducted to generate widespread engagement.
The event concluded with a speech by A.J.M Abdullahil Baki in which, wishing every success to the campaign, he stated, “Everyone will go to class to study, however we need them to learn things outside of class. Libraries work to make people gain that extra knowledge, and make us humane.” He hopes that over the years to come they will be able to expand their campaign over all 64 districts.