National Book Centre

National Book Centre (NBC) was established in Dhaka by the Central Education Ministry of Pakistan on 29 July 1960. In late 1950s, the necessity of an organisation to assist the book development in developing countries was felt in a declaration of UNESCO. In the light of the UNESCO's guideline, the National Book Centre was established with its head office in Karachi, and two branch offices- one at Dhaka and another at Lahore. Until 1971, its activities were directed to development of publication industry on national integration. But after independence, the centre was gradually losing its grip through many factors, principally the government control and government's outlook to intellectual development. A monthly Bangla journal entitled Boi (book) is published. To start with, it drew participation from many important writers. But gradually, the writing class got away from the Boi published irregularly by the Centre. One very major function of the Centre has been to promote the publication industry of the country through holding book exhibition annually and in it the Centre had been achieving a lot initially, but this very important function got now weakened.'

After the Liberation of Bangladesh, the center was renamed as Jatiya Grantha Kendro. Now the scope of NBC's jurisdiction of activities has been further widened, but in reality, the Centre has lost its vitality and usefulness for the writing community and promoting publication industry.

To make book reading habit a national movement, NBC proposed to observe 'National Book Week' all over the country. According to the proposal the government of Bangladesh announced to observe national book week from 21 February to 28 February. This project has been more productive than most other areas of the Centre's. This time, nearly two thousand Book Lovers Associations (Grantha Suhrid Samity) were formed all over Bangladesh by the guidance and assistance of National Book Centre. Thousands of readers of different ages became members of these associations. They contributed much to strengthen the library movement all over the country. Now a days, arrangements of Dhaka Book Fair and district level book fairs have become a routine work of Book Centre. To develop the standard of publication, different types of training courses were occasionally conducted by National Book Centre. It had taken part in book fair of different countries. Under joint venture with Book Trust of India, it organised Indian Book Fair and exhibition in Bangladesh a number of times. Simultaneously Bangladeshi Book Fair and exhibition were also organised in India.

With the assistance of UNESCO, National Book Centre once introduced a mobile book fair in the country. At the initial stage a truck was hired, but later the mobile fair was conducted on its own vehicle. On behalf of NBC, grants and donation of books are given to different libraries of Bangladesh.

It has a sale centre for sale of books published by the local publishers. Facilities are available to buy book personally or on behalf of any organisation. At present a very rich public library, named 'Mahanagar Library' is maintained by the NBC.

The Centre launched a campaign programme named 'priajanke boi upahar din' (Present book to your favourite person) to popularise presentation of books.

The number of readers of books in Bangladesh has gradually been increasing as a positive contribution of National Book Centre. [Iqbal Aziz]