Like many, I have always wondered why the statue of the famous writer Alexander Pushkin is built where it stands at the moment, near the Asmara Public Library. Later, however, I realized there is no better place to position the statue apart from that particular spot. I believe this is done to deliver the message of triumph by being a reader. Just like my friends did, I used to visit the Asmara Public Library and be amazed by the diverse and interesting books I happened to look at and read as well.
Reading is one of the many necessary factors that lead to societal development. It can be institutionalized as the most fundamental skill one needs to learn to shape one’s of life. Books are accounts of the past, notifications of the present and guides for the future.
Reading books is not only for students to finish their academic studies or learn a particular field of study, it serves our brain as a nutrition. The knowledge that we gain from books is easily witnessed in our daily activities and thoughts. Generally, reading is used as a benchmark for societies towards certain level of development. For a society to benefit out of books, good reading habits must be fostered. One way to nurture a good habit of reading is to set up public libraries available and accessible.
The Eritrean government has been building libraries in different parts of the country and furnish them with books. With the advent of new technologies and digital libraries, the government is striving to fulfill the growing needs of users.
In Maekel region there is one public library and many community libraries such as Algien, Denden, Itaro, Auget, Embagalyano and others administered by local communities. The library that was previously run by British Council is now included in the administration of the public library. The administration of public library in collaboration with its partners has been working to meet the demands of readers. The Eritrean diaspora are funding and donating books to this library which has been very important for many readers and customers.
As Mr. Tesfaldet Berhe, Head of Maekel region public library said, the administration of Maekel region has been working to improve the quality of services and renew the old public libraries in the region. Until 2012 the public library was only a physical library where reading was possible through hard copies and books. The introduction of a digital library in that year was one step further to an improved and effective service.
Digital library has several advantages over traditional libraries. It offers new services with efficiency. Moreover, libraries make research easier for scholars and people who are engaged in academic. The most important advantage of a digital library is its ability to make information easily accessible, qualitatively and quantitatively.
Using accessories such as smartphones, tablets and laptops digital libraries can easily be accessed using the wireless technology. With the agreement reached with RORA digital library, City Library previously known as the British council has presented 50 tablets to access digital library in its platform. The library has around 5000 uploaded collection of books in every computer for fast references. Users, especially students of higher education, have witnessed the quality of services given by the public library and are grateful for the books loaded in the library.
Now-a-days, the number of library users has increased by 50% and the time wasted searching books is minimized with the introduction of digital libraries and the provision of internet service.
Apart from the book service users access these libraries provide the internet service. In both public and city libraries fair priced internet service is offered. The administration of those libraries is working to extend this internet service by installing routers in order to provide sufficient internet access.
The librarians in these libraries are graduates of library science. In addition to this Asmara Public Library managed to build an extra room for kids. This provides a silent atmosphere for the library and gives a chance for the children to develop reading habits in their early age.
Alongside these progress, the library, like any other institution, is inevitable to face challenges. Some of the challenges are shortage, theft and worn out of books and other materials. Although services are in good condition at this time, the public library officials suggest the library must be equipped with a supply of books to meet the demands of the users.
Mr. Tesfaldet, said that we inherited these books from the generations in past and it is our duty to use them properly and pass them to the next generation. It is every citizen’s duty to play part in the development and preservation of our libraries.
The future of students is based on the amount of knowledge they grasp during their school lives. This profoundly helps them to score good points and join higher education. It is the duty of parents to encourage children to develop reading habits and the means to do that is by sending their children to libraries rather than game stores. A better way to boost good reading habits for our society is not only to provide books but also to raise the level of curiosity. The curiosity to discover new things and reach a certain level of civilization.