Although the number of Dhaka University students has increased over the years, the accommodation in its central library has not seen any expansion, depriving the students of availing themselves of its facilities.
Every morning one will see a mad rush of students to grab a seat in the library, one of the largest in the country that began its journey with the inception of the university in 1921.
Once known as the ‘Oxford of the East’ for its academic excellence, Dhaka University started its journey with only 877 students in 15 departments and three dormitories. But, now the number of students has shot up to 37,064 while that of departments and institutes to 91 and the dormitories to 23.
However, the library capacity has not been increased compared to the expansion of the university.
According to library officials, the number of seats in the library has been increased to 1,400 from 700 in the last few years. However, this is too inadequate to accommodate the present number of students.
A huge number of students gather in front of the DU Central Library in long queues from 7:00am every day to grab a seat before anyone else although the library opens at 8:00am.
Farid Molla, a student of DU Finance department, said, “I always try to come here before 7:30am. Or else, I won’t get any seat. Even, sometimes I keep my bag on the ground in the queue before 7:00am and come back later to reclaim the spot to avail myself of a seat in the library.”
More worrying, the library management and service systems have not been advanced enough. Due to the analog checking system at the entrance, many non-students, irregular students and outsiders can enter the library.
Former students and job seekers come to the library too to prepare for various recruitment exams like BCS, and for bank and government jobs, sidelining many regular students.
Ali Azam Siddique, a second-year student of Mass Communication and Journalism department, said, “It’s impossible for us to manage a seat in the library for academic study as BCS candidates and job seekers always stand in queues outside the library gate before it opens. So, we never get a seat.”
Shimul Shahriar, a student of the Population Science department, said there are no adequate photocopiers in the library while many are not well-maintained for copying documents. “This deprives us of enjoying the full library facilities as taking books outside is not permitted,” he said.
Librarian proffesor SM Zabed Ahmed admitted the shortage of seats in the library but refuted the claim about the library mismanagement. “Although the number of students has seen a rise in the university, seats in the library have not been increased,” he told UNB.
Prof Zabed, however, said the library capacity will be enhanced by this month adding 270 more seats to the existing ones.
About the access of irregular students to the library, he said some DU students come here with their friends from other institutions with fake identity cards which is difficult for them to identify.
He, however, said they will introduce digital ID cards from the next month. “Only the regular students of Dhaka University will get the new digital ID cards then,” he said, adding that it will prevent non-students, irregular and former students from entering the library.
DU vice-chancellor professor AAMS Arefin Siddique also admitted the accommodation crisis at the library, saying they are trying to resolve it. “We’ve a plan to build a new library. But we’ve some limitations. For constructing a new building, we need a space and huge money,” he said.
The DU VC also said they are digitising the library which will enable students to read any book from their halls or homes.