BIBLIOPHILES were recently barred from entering the National Library of Pakistan, Islamabad, as its administration had been informed by the National Institute of Health (NIH) that one of the Covid-19 tests conducted on Nov 18 had reported positive.

The students who were denied entry mostly happened to be aspirants for a career in the civil services, and they have been affected the most. They were told they would not be allowed entry since, according to the library administration, they had received directives from NIH to limit students’ number in the library.

After a hue and cry was raised, those prevented were allowed entry. However, the relief was short-lived as a notification dispatched by the NIH to the library directed that along with wearing masks, which was already being done, the entry should be contingent upon producing a negative Covid-19 report. Similarly, not more than 100 students would be allowed in on a first-come-first-served basis.

The directives should have come with a free testing sevice, as private labs charge a hefty price. Besides, the closed reading halls should be reopened to accommodate more than the permitted number of students. Out of the many reading halls, only two are currently functional.

The library closure or restraints with about two months to go in the examinations is injustice to the aspirants, especially to those attempting the competitive examinations for the last time and those coming from afar in search of a conducive environment.

Naveed Baiyan
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2020

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