KARACHI, Aug 6: Over 20,000 books, including a number of precious and rare ones, of the Central Archeological Reference Library have been shifted to yet another location in the city for the fifth time in nearly a decade, it is learnt reliably on Sunday.
Sources said that the library books, which were earlier kept at the department’s head office on Shaheed-i-Millat Road, had been shifted to the excavation and exploration branch as the head office had been moved to Islamabad and the old head office building had been vacated.
The books of central archeological reference library, known as one of the best on the subject in the entire South Asian region, located on the ground floor of the department’s head office were first shifted during mid 1990s after torrential rains. The library was inundated with knee-deep rainwater that ruined a number of rare books.
The books were shifted to the exploration and excavation branch office on Sharea Faisal, where they were kept for long. Later, these books were shifted to the Flag Staff House Museum and after remaining there for some time these books were shifted back to the exploration and excavation branch. The authorities seemed least concerned with the fate of rare books once again ordered their relocation. This time the books were shifted to the department’s head office on Shaheed-i-Millat Road. However, as the head office had been shifted to Islamabad, thousands of rare books were transferred back to the exploration and excavation branch.
The sources said that with each shifting a number of rare and precious books went missing while many others had been ruined owing to the repeated relocation and transportation exercises on which a huge amount of public money was spent. Besides, they said, the library remained closed for long each time the books were shifted.
They said that the excavation and exploration branch had already been facing accommodation problem, as it had insufficient space to store artifacts that kept on pouring in from excavation sites. At present, the precious books wrapped in bundles and library furniture were dumped in the same office occupying rest of the space.
PUBLICATIONS: Over 70,000 publications of the federal archeology and museums department have also been shifted from the Shaheed-i-Millat Road office building to the corridors of the National Museum, which is infested with termite.
When this scribe visited the museum, water seeped from the ceiling had gathered near the publications. Sources said that the department planned to shift these publications to the rooms, where Contemporary Art Gallery was set up, next to the Quran Gallery in the museum. Ironically, major portions of the Contemporary Art Gallery have been closed since long owing to the termite attack. The shifting of these publications from the corridors to the art gallery may save them from rainwater but not from termite attack.
The sources said that though the National Museum, which was under continuous termite onslaught since long, had spent large sums to control the menace, it had never been eliminated completely. It reoccurs shortly after the anti-termite treatment is carried out. Neither the organisation carrying out the anti-termite operation nor the department officials had been taken to task for their failure to control the termite, thus, raising doubts that they wanted to keep the issue alive so the department continued spending funds.