WITH deference I want to draw your kind attention towards the serious issue of closure of ’round-the-clock’ reading room facility at the University of Kashmir for more than two years now. The library was closed after the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two union territories . The erosion of J&K ' s semi-autonomous status was followed by prolonged closure of educational institutions across the valley. After that the virulent covid-19 pandemic triggered successive lockdowns. However, with the receding of the second wave of covid-19 the university was opened, but the students are yet bereft of 24x7 reading room facility .
The closure of ’round-the-clock’ reading room facility in Kashmir University has caused immense impediments to students associated with varsity in their studies. The reading room of the Allama Iqbal has a capacity to accommodate around 200 to 250 students at a time. Its closure has adversely affected the studies of students of varsity , which has put their future in jeopardy. Earlier , when the students had reading room facilities, they would study during the night hours in the reading room to prepare for semester and competitive exams. The reading room proves the knight in shining armour for those students who share rooms with 3-4 persons . It is not possible for them to study in a room because of the unfeasible milieu there.
Students of the varsity protested multiple times against the inordinate closure of the 24x7 reading room facility, but all the protests proved unavailing so far. Their protests were reported by different newspapers and news portals to convey their genuine demand to authorities ,but the authorities turned deaf ear to the incessant requests of the students. Instead of redressing this genuine demand of students, the authorities gave feeble excuses which can not go down the throat of any logical person. They falsely claim we are concerned about the health of students and ventilation problems can occur there because the reading room is located in an underground story . They should understand students are the most disciplined folk of any community and they better know how to follow Covid-19 protocols and save their lives. They should understand the plight of students. And the question is when every department of the university is organizing events every month , markets and restaurants are packed with people and covid-19 SOPs going for the toss every now and then, why can the reading room not be reopened 24x7 for our students who will seriously adhere to the covid-19 SOPs?
I want to apprise you that, library plays a stern and climacteric role in our academic lives. And the most important thing in the library is the reading room facility. One could say; a reading room is to a library, what pilot is to aeroplane. Reading rooms provide a relaxed ambience for students to study. It provides a peaceful atmosphere to educate seekers of knowledge. Evidence suggests learning outcomes are better in schools, colleges and universities that have reading room facilities on-site.
I earnestly request the honourable vice-chancellor of Kashmir University to take this matter seriously and redress this genuine demand of students as soon as possible. I humbly entreat you to direct the Chief Librarian of Kashmir University to resume the 24x7 reading room facility, so that students don’t suffer further.
Student Law Faculty and coordinator of JKSA ( Jammu and Kashmir students Association)
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