British Council CEO Sir Martin Davidson with Punjab Finance Minister Shuja-ur-Rehman at Lahore Library Foundation Stone Laying
British Council CEO Sir Martin Davidson with Punjab Finance Minister Shuja-ur-Rehman at Lahore Library Foundation Stone Laying

After a span of more than a decade, the British Council is working to reopen its library after starting work on constructing a purpose built facility for it in mid-2015. Punjab Finance Minister, Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman was chief guest at the event where he placed the foundation stones with the Chief Executive of the British Council, Sir Martin Davidson signifying not only the planned reopening of the library, but its reinvention as well. 

The British Council’s library in Lahore is a response to the longstanding demand from the people of this city to once again have their beloved cultural and intellectual hub open its doors to the public. The Lahore library will not just be a lending office, the British Council intends for it to be a library for the 21st century, bringing together advances in technology and an expansion of purpose, the library will aim to facilitate a lectures series, provide a space for young people to debate ideas and help the reclamation of public space lost to the fall out of the tragic security situation. The library is also envisaged to become a centre that promotes the showcasing and creation of art and design in all its forms, reflecting Pakistan’s cultural richness and diversity and it will include the best of the UK’s world leading knowledge base, cultural inclusivity and contributions to language and literature. 

While the library is situated in Lahore, it will be a resource for Pakistan, be it Baluchistan, Sindh, FATA or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, through its digital membership for journals and electronic books that people will be able to access from their offices and homes. 

The Punjab Finance Minister Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman spoke at the event about the need to develop the next generation of Pakistan and the efforts of his government in giving education top priority. Sir Martin Davidson reiterated his long held belief that the British Council had to make an impact in the lives of the people it serves, and that this library reopening was a symbol on the gradual efforts of Pakistan to enrich their intellectual and cultural lives despite challenges facing the country. 

Country Director Pakistan of the British Council, Peter Upton said, “We want this library to be a safe space for the young people of this country, where they can grow intellectually and foster ideas, debate and entrepreneurship. Pakistan’s greatest natural asset is its youth; they deserve every opportunity to develop themselves. Our library will not be an oasis, we intend to work with libraries across the country to bring new developments and ideas implemented around the world and in the UK which reimagines what role a library can play in a person’s life, and we anticipate excellent partnerships with libraries across the country.”