Daily Archives: June 3, 2015

Sarwar Hasan: The Library and the Research Worker

PIIA’s founder Barrister Sarwar Hasan thought that the test of a real scholar is whether he has been published by a publisher of world repute.

khwaja-sarwar-hasanIt has been said of the great Arab historian, Tabari, that he wrote forty pages a day for forty years. Edward Gibbon took fifteen years to write the eight volumes of his famous book, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. We have taken these two examples of writers of multi-volume works for the reason that, while they belong to two different cultures and periods, the nature of their effort was the same. Undoubtedly it was in both cases a purely personal effort. The material which they drew upon for their books was also self-collected. And, of course, their purpose was not monetary gain. They were motivated by a passion for enquiry and zeal for making available to others the knowledge which they themselves were deeply interested in acquiring. The times in which Tabari or Gibbon wrote were more spacious than present. There was then more leisure than there is today and practically no competition.

The problem of earning a livelihood to maintain oneself and one’s family was also not so acute. Thus it was that men of learning read books which they themselves collected or books to which they had access in private collections or such public libraries as then existed. They were research workers who fended for themselves. Circumstances have now changed. The research worker of today is not a man of leisure. He has generally to earn his living by his writing. He has to work under severe pressure of time. He knows that he has competitors in the field and must finish his work before his rival does. Continue reading

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