Mobile book fair in Bamyan part of efforts to promote peace and reading

The ‘Baba’ Cultural Institute in Bamyan, with the help of the United States Institute of Peace, has launched a one-week mobile book fair in six villages of the province, with the stated aim of promoting peace. Welcoming this exhibition, many visitors feel it is important and fruitful to launch such programs to encourage people to read books, as well as to promote peace and mutual acceptance in the country’s villages. The organizers of the book fair say that promoting a culture of peace and reading in remote villages is one of their main goals. Dara-e-Foladi, Shash Pul, Darreh-e-Azhdar, Shahidan, Shahrak-e-Jadid Bamyan, and the district of Yakhawalang are the areas covered by this mobile book fair.

One of the main goals of the mobile book fair is to gather villagers’ views on peace and share them with the United States Institute of Peace, as Noor Azizi, organizer of the book fair, told 8 Subh. According to him, the collected opinions of the people would be taken into account in meetings held on peace. Mr. Azizi added that before this, book fairs were always held in city centers, and rural residents could not visit them and buy the books they needed, which is why it was decided to hold a mobile book fair in several of the more populated villages of Bamyan, where it was well received by the local people.

The organizers of the fair displayed about 1,500 books with 400 different titles, on Sunday, January 24, in the village of Azhdar on the outskirts of Bamyan. Locals, young and old, women and children, lined up to check out their favorite books. In addition to historical accounts, novels and stories for adults and story and fairy tale books for children were also on display. At the end of the fair, about 100 different books will be donated to each village council to encourage a culture of reading. Village councils can make these books available to libraries or educational centers in their neighborhoods for book lovers as well as students to use.

Book fairs promote a culture of reading

Mohammad Hussain Karbalayi, a resident of Azhdar village and one of the visitors to the fair, who is about 60 years old, has a special interest in reading books and considers holding such book fairs to be very effective in encouraging people to read. According to him, although 40 years of war and violence in the country have deprived him of education, he is literate and very interested in reading. Mohammad Hussain Karbalayi added that he would buy several books from the fair and read them when he was not working. He hoped that there would soon be comprehensive peace in the country so that everyone could enjoy the blessings of literacy. The Azhdar resident adds that this was the first time in 18 years that he had witnessed a rural book fair. According to him, now that it is winter, a period of relative unemployment, people should read books to become more knowledgeable.

Shahla Haidari, a young girl who visited the fair, asked girls and boys to buy some books. Shahla called for the continuation of this program in the villages so that other interested people could also buy books. Uzra La’li, a lady who came to buy books and visit the fair, said that in most cases, women could not go to book fairs in city centers for various reasons, but now that they had the opportunity in the village itself, they could visit the fair and obtain books for themselves.

Officials at the public library in central Bamyan consider the culture of reading in the province to be “relatively satisfactory”, and say that an average of five to ten people from different walks of life come to the public library daily to seek out the books they need. Ali Reza Wahidpur, director of the Bamyan Public Library, told 8 Subh that holding book fairs has a significant effect in encouraging people to read books. According to him, the interest of young people in reading books has increased compared to previous years, and one of the reasons is the holding of book fairs.

But the problem that’s always mentioned is the lack of new books and resources in the libraries of Bamyan. Students at Bamyan University often complain about the lack of resources for research in the province’s libraries. In addition to public and university libraries, there are several other libraries in central Bamyan but an insufficient number of books and resources needed by students and researchers.