At LUMS I was not allowed to enter the library

Published: April 23, 2014

LUMS, one of the top-ranked private universities in Pakistan, denied some of the students access to their library.

Ray Bradbury, a well-known American author says,

“There’s no use going to school unless your final destination is the library.” 

I endorse the same idea; any kind of studying is incomplete without having access to a library where one can explore and read about relevant material.

The reason why I feel the need to highlight the importance of a library is because of something that I had experienced while I was studying a management course at the Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS), one of the top-ranked private universities in Pakistan. To my surprise, during the entire duration of my course, none of the enrolled students of our class were allowed to walk into the university library which came as a huge disappointment.

This made me wonder how an educational institute could ever disallow or prohibit the entrance of any of its students into a library, despite being provided university identity cards. But my curiosity was answered by the Continuing Education Program (CEP) coordinator when I asked her what the reason behind this ‘rule’ was. She simply told me,

“I did ask the library management but they say that only regular students can enter the library.”

As absurd as this seemed, I asked,

“Can you be of any help in this regard? What if we request them to allow the CEP students as well?”

She answered my queries by saying,

“No! I’m sorry! It’s not going to work. I have already asked them if there is any such possibility. But I am told that it becomes hard for the library administration to manage the growing crowd, which is why they have to restrict the use of the library. Thus, there is no such chance of accommodating the CEP students at the moment.”

I was left speechless. Being a book worm and one who loves spending time in libraries, I was highly disappointed and could only ask myself,

“What is the reason behind this discrimination?”

After this incident, I raised my concerns during the mid-term evaluation in which the students were asked to provide feedback and suggestions about their experience. This little exercise was done so ‘that (the university) could help meet their expectations’, but it was all in vain.

By ‘regular students’ they meant students enrolled in full-time degree programs. At first, I found all this quite astonishing but then I remembered a friend narrating her experience to me, which was worse than mine. She was humiliated by the same university’s library management when she wanted to do some research for an assignment but was eventually turned down even though she had gotten verbal permission from one of the authoritative figures of the management.

On the other hand, when I happened to visit my Alma Mater, the University of Central Punjab (UCP), I was allowed to sit in the library for as long as I wanted, without any hassle, even though I wasn’t an enrolled student over there anymore.

Yes, both the universities may be poles apart when it comes to academic excellence, but both were educational institutes; one seemed to have its doors firmly shut whilst the other was extremely accommodating.

The famous historian and writer Shelby Foote has highlighted the importance of a library as,

“A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library”

She implied a library to be an essential part of any university. Taking away access to a library is like depriving a student with a pen to write with. Taking into consideration the load on the library administration, but neglecting the need of a student only goes to show what the priority of the university is. Such policies affirm the belief that educational institutes, in this day and age, are nothing more than commercial entities there to conduct a business and nothing more; where education has become more of a money-making machine than an obligation.

The purpose here is not to praise one institute over another but to highlight an absurdity that prevails at certain institutes. All over the world, students are taught about the significance and usefulness of libraries. Granting access to a university should be tacit approval to use its library. They say, what a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it feels about education; I hope that is not the case with LUMS.

In a developing country like ours, already striving to excel in the field of education, all the available sources of knowledge, including libraries, should be made easily available and accessible for those making the effort to learn and increase their knowledge bank. Prohibiting the use of the library is nothing more than nonsensical and discouraging.

While our country is struggling in the field of education, private institutes must also play their role by making education in the country easier to access. We have enough roadblocks in the country – education should definitely not be one of them.

Do you think education has become a money-making mechanism in Pakistan?

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Kiran Wali

Kiran Wali

A business graduate working in the corporate sector. She tweets @KiranW_ (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Necromancer

    Well it is a private university you can’t just tell them to do something, any ways MIT,Stanford, Coursera and different institutions offer on-line courses for free and all of their publications and research material are available on-line again for freeRecommend

  • Uncha Naam, Peeka Pakwan


  • ABA

    I use to get inside the library, lived at the dorms and attended classes when I was not even a student at LUMS :)Recommend

  • Sunila

    I can’t believe this – Limiting the access for libraries/education by any University and that too for its very own students is indeed a very senseless and ridiculous act!Recommend

  • Taimur

    I’m sure you will find other narratives, like the one mentioned by ABA, that will tell you about how accommodating the staff is at lums. One isolated issue does not represent the whole picture.Recommend

  • Fatima

    You should have just taken a ‘regular’ students smart card and entered the library. once inside the library no one asks who you are. There are many CSS candidates that have friends studying at LUMS who come to the library to prepare. LUMS offices have an open door policy, should have talked to the higher authorities despite whatever the coordinator told you.Recommend

  • Mystic

    I am sure LUMS graduates can enjoy the library whenever they want.

    If the library facilities at LUMS cannot handle all the students who go there for 3/4 days short courses, it is not such a big deal. I hope the government funds LUMS for a larger library so more people can use it.Recommend

  • Nouman Ahmad

    Then share those narratives with us.Recommend

  • Shehbaz Bashir

    I feel sorry for what happened to you but if your ultimate goal was to enter Library, then I don’t see how you could have been stopped. For more then 6 years I entered Library without having my ID card as I am lazy as hell. I borrowed the card from whoever was standing outside and gave it to person coming out to return. I used to enter graduate lounge (there was less crowd and less people to fight for a channel on TV ) by simply asking students inside to open the glass door and they did it every time. I have attended classes of subjects for which I wasn’t even enrolled. Even most of teachers knew which students are just auditing (wont take exams or assignments).
    It is wrong policy but it certainly should not stop you from reaching you ultimate goal of entering Library.Recommend

  • Aphtab

    The answer to the last survey question is not a simple yes or no. However, I agree that the membership of the library should be open to all. In any case, reading books is a dying habit with more and more people relying on the internet. LUMS would better serve the community by opening the doors of its library.Recommend

  • Rehan

    He is talking about official access. No big deal if you sneaked around the campusRecommend

  • Hunza wala

    ‘…not such a big deal’….It is a huge deal. And a very callous remark.
    Libraries are suppose to be islands of knowledge. Beckoning everyone.
    Every student, enrolled, under whatever circumstances should be allowed
    the use. This restricted use policy is just something you would expect in the
    ‘land of the pure.’ by the pure, for the pure.Recommend

  • Faryad

    I visited Lums couple of times and just used to enter after the very next person who was entering in the library (before the door get closed). No one used to question me. Same procedure i used to perform when I had to come outside the library. Where there is a will, there is a way. Sometimes you have to be street smart in order to get things done.Recommend

  • Extrovert

    If you just wanted to raise this issue, you could have written a piece in a professional and mature manner not as a short story!Recommend

  • ovais

    solution is simple suggest a charge for additional students and all problems will be solved :PRecommend

  • Gred Alfred

    Well, the key problem here is not the library, LUMS but larger issue of poor education in Pakistan – I say that because the author has made a claim about commercialization of education in pakistan based on a personal experience – can she even make that generalization? Should hospitals who cannot treat more patients just open the door to everyone? If they dont, does that make them commercialized, profit-making entity?Recommend

  • md

    Guys, the point being made in the article is that a leading university did not allow a student to enter their library officially instead of asking for suggestions on how to sneak your way inside that library.Recommend

  • Ali

    For me, the more shocking thing is that many were using the library (according to the comments posted earlier) by probably deceiving the staff, like by opening the doors for others or by using someone else’s card. THIS IS NOT A USE. THIS IS ABUSE.

    And there’s nothing that makes you SMART by abusing the services. It not only affects the current students, but also makes it difficult for the rest in the future.Recommend

  • oldschool

    I’m a student at an ivy-league university, and our library allows access to ANYONE who physically walks in and wants to read books, magazines, surf the internet, etc.

    The only restriction is that they cannot borrow books, unless they pay an extremely small fee to get a card.Recommend

  • Tashféen Ahmed

    This is no more the case. And they provide 24 hours access during the exam days. I, being a student of LUMS, study in Library, Labs, Discussion Rooms, Residential College Conference room, Cafe’s and even LUMS Square but no one stops me.Recommend

  • vega

    This to me looks like a publicity stunt by a person who got rejected by LUMS for their admission and is trying to vent that anger by highlighting such a nonsense issue which could easily have been overcome had the writer asked a regular student to let her in. Sorry, but I dont feel sorry for u not getting admission into LUMS.Recommend

  • Parvez

    When my daughter was studying at Karachi’s premier business school and grumbling away, I asked her for a short explanation and she said……when I joined a university I did not expect to go back to a school environment.
    What I find funny is that there are comments about by-passing the system and not many that advocate changing through a reasoned process.Recommend

  • Taimoor

    It is ironical to see that how just a single incident has been used to portray an image of a place where the young die to get admission and whose policies have been supportive to the extent of even allowing external library memberships, and there are many doctors, css exam preparation students and researchers availing this facility. The author enrolled in a Continuing Education Program, which includes things like photography and painting, needs to understand that a private university which is trying to impart quality education to its student body, and successfully doing so for years, is catering to the needs for its students.

    The first right is that of its students for which the library is very accommodating, furthermore alumni, staff and external library members use its facilities without any inconvenience and thus to cater to the services due to its limited capacity is rightful to discriminate against a minority of people who come only for fun short courses. Furthermore, comparing it to your old university is totally absurd, as this comparison is in itself a huge fallacy and cannot be defended.Recommend

  • hjvd

    People complaining about LUMS should just ask people who attended EME college,NUST.There is a restriction around each corner…Recommend

  • Zia

    Its a private university. Full time enrolled students get access to it. As well as alumni. Happens around the world. Taking a random course does not grant you the same privileges. You should not and will not be allowed at the sports complex or any of the buildings that require carded access. Because you’re not a registered person. Which makes you a security liability, among a nuisance and disruption.

    Clearly the purpose of this article was short lived fame on tribune. Recommend

  • MIT- CS-Grad

    And then they say, “People don’t show any interest when it comes to Library”.
    May God Give some wisdom to this institution that no one like to come on one corner of the city and go to LUMS library so they should encourage atleast the people who want to go and do some constructive work.Recommend

  • Dante

    The internet is a huge library. Why do you need an archaic building full of dusty old books?

    Besides, education is a money-making mechanism even more so in United States, not just Pakistan. Something to reflect upon, before labeling one meagre situation (you not having access to a library) as the problem of the whole nation of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Ibn-Arastoo Ibn-aflatoon Ibn-B

    They do not allow nonregistered (non regular) students admission into many Ivy League libraries at the top schools in the West. A friend was not allowed to enter even though he had been admitted to a top university because he had not yet registered. Respect your school and support your school and try to understand why they do things instead of just criticizing them. They are called an “Alma Mater” (nourishing mother) for a reason. They are the mother of your souls so respect and love your schools just as much and even more than your parents. Because your parents just give birth to your body but your schools give birth to your spirit (Alma means spirit and Mater means mother) and they give birth to your thoughts and your soul etc.

    Perhaps the reason is : most libraries at top institutions (I don’t know about LUMS never been there) contain very sensitive , historical, archival material (that area usually requires another level of clearance and is cordoned off). But beyond maintaining the quality of the library and books they usually do this in urban areas where there are all kinds of people who can enter such libraries (students or not).

    Many state schools (like Punjab Uni.) etc. allow entrance but you can probably tell the difference between their libraries and the exclusive libraries (libraries that are free for all are usually drab and not so well stocked). The task is not to question entrance but to try to make all of the world so good that entrance permission is not required. (anywhere be it libraries or any other place).Recommend

  • Affan Javed

    If this was written to LUMS VC or Library head or other relevant people, they would have helped you. I have had many issues with policies over years I spent within LUMS, but I have always found people within Admin and Faculty who went out of the way to help me sort them, for every person who is a pain, there are many who willing to help…Recommend

  • Syed Imam

    Libraries should be accessible to all regard less. Going digital may help some.Recommend

  • Ali Zahid

    The BG (Before Google) era is long over. Why are we emphasizing libraries and books when there’s more faster access to more relevant information with greater ease than ever before, thanks to Google? Not to mention it’s quicker to read excerpts and summaries, than entire journals / books.Recommend

  • kashif

    what kind of management is this at LUMS, never listen before, in my perception without library universities are useless we are sitting at our library in M.A.J.U Karachi as and when we needed even on sundayRecommend

  • Mariam

    how the CEP lost her job..Recommend

  • Sane

    I think the writer is just exaggerating. This is a norm that even non LUMS students can freely go library. Whereas, even if stopped to enter, then note that LUMS is a private institution and has their own rules and can not be challenged. Whether you like or dislike, you have to follow.Recommend

  • Parvez

    For the time the student is taking the course…..he / she is a member of the institution and SHOULD be allowed access to all facilities ESPECIALLY THE LIBRARY……..its logical and good sense.
    Hopefully, if the LUMS administration reads this it would have served its purpose of asking them to correct a wrong.Recommend

  • Mystic

    There is something called ‘capacity’. Perhaps you never heard of it.Recommend

  • Rtr Khurram Malik

    Honestly, quite amazed to see this! I’ve NEVER been refused access to the LUMS library, and several times I was with other classfellows from Punjab university. However, this practice may be an attempt to regulate access, as I heard that a number of books have been found missing. Several university libraries I visited in the UK had a similar access framework: you required some form of documentary evidence to enter the library; simple verbal allowance was not enough.Recommend

  • Rtr Khurram Malik

    Me too, plus at a leading university in UK as well, and both did not simply allow “outsiders” to enter; had to provide a documentary approval or member’s card to enter. Thus, the entire argument whether it should be allowed, is a public good, is altogether baseless in my opinion. There are many a place in Lahore if one is TOO eager to read: QA Library, Punjab Public Library, Model Town Library, even Readings, to name a few. If you can still not find THAT elusive foreign book, send me a PM, and I’ll hopefully send it to you. Making suggestions is one thing; putting blame, and keep going on to do that, simply to belittle a place (that you couldn’t go to) is downright mean, and stupid.Recommend

  • Rtr Khurram Malik

    Further, the entire argument whether it should be allowed, is a public good, is altogether baseless in my opinion. There are many a place in Lahore if one is TOO eager to read: QA Library, Punjab Public Library, Model Town Library, even Readings, to name a few. If you can still not find THAT elusive foreign book, send me a PM, and I’ll hopefully send it to you. Making suggestions is one thing; putting blame, and keep going on to do that, simply to belittle a place is mean.Recommend

  • Khan

    I don’t know about the situation these days but a few years back LUMS Library used to be jam-packed with students most of the time. And especially during exam time. There is a serious capacity issue and LUMS Admin hasn’t been able to expand capacity.Recommend

  • Faizan Irfan

    Libraries usually need to record people who borrow books, and its not feasible to do it with all short course students. I think their policy is for the benefit of the majority, they would be running after students to get back borrowed books. The comparison to another University was very lame, and the system present there is simply very unsecured in the present circumstances. Education is commercial agreed, buts schools and pre-schools specifically. LUMS is the last place you could accuse of commercialism. I have never known a person who couldnt go to LUMS because he couldnt afford it! I doubt tribune’s commercialism after reading such an article!Recommend

  • gp65

    ABA did not indicate about the staff being accomodative. If someone sneaks around and no one stops you, that is not the same as having official access.Recommend

  • gp65

    It is not a single incident but a stated policy which the author has written about.Recommend

  • gp65

    Did you read the article? She is a LUMS student enrolled in a part time management course at LUMS.
    She is talking about a policy issue not ways to bypass the system.Recommend

  • Farnaz Khan

    This is an incredibly narrow minded comment. For many reasons.
    – “LUMS graduates can enjoy the library whenever they want” – the comment wasn’t about LUMS graduates, it was about all students APART from them being unable to gain official access to the library.
    – “not such a big deal” – How is it not a big deal? Libraries are either open to the general public or to ALL university students, either full or part time students. For LUMS to do this is proof of the commercialization of education.
    – “government funds LUMS for a larger library” – Why on earth would the government fund it? For what purpose? LUMS is a PRIVATE institution? Isn’t the whole point of LUMS being a PRIVATE, NON-GOVERNMENT institution that that the government’s fund don’t need to be used? Honestly, the callousness and lethargy of people is what brings this country down to it’s knees in virtually every field.Recommend

  • Farnaz Khan

    How is a comparison to another university a fallacy? The University of
    Central Punjab is also an institution of higher education, and from the
    remarks of individuals on this page (IF you’ve actually read them) are
    clear proof that university libraries of PRIVATE institutions generally
    are open to ALL students.

    If anything, your point about “external
    library memberships” is a fallacy. If even the general public is
    allowed to take courses here, why on earth aren’t fee-paying students
    taking ACTUAL courses at the institution? Naturally this argument would
    portray a negative image of an institution, as a greater expectation is
    carried of reputable institutions like LUMS, which as you mentioned,
    “the young die to get admission”.Recommend

  • Lahore wala

    Nobody really believes you are at a prestigious university.
    If you were proud of this university, you would have mentioned
    the name. Besides, assuming that anyone who wrote a contradictory expression here is a failed admission candidate
    is preposterous. Your use of the word ‘stupid’ shows the caliber of your infantile personality. You are nowhere near a college.Recommend

  • Lahore wala

    Do you even know what ‘Ivy League’ means? What is the significance of the ‘Ivy’ ? What has the level of ‘clearance’ got to do with allowing a student access to an institution’s library? Weather taking summer courses or enrolled with a full load?? Once registered.Your formative years are your early teens. Your personality, your spirit, is cast and set solidly by the age of 13 to14 years. You are fully functional by the time you reach a university. So it is simply good and excellent PR to attach Alma Mater etc. When in reality, it is simply you, who makes the difference. Would you happen to know Neville Chamberlaine’s alma mater ? Or, say
    any of the Roosevelts ? ..including Eleanor’s…? Elizabeth Warren’s?
    Al Gore’s? Joe Biden’s ?Recommend

  • LUMS alumnus

    gosh, people are just awful. Sorry to hear about your experience, the privatization of libraries and education in general is deplorable. Forget research libraries, there isn’t a single public library in Lahore that has updated titles, wifi and air-conditioning, or facilities for students to sit and read. Surely LUMS could do better. but I also understand how students who pay Rs12,000 for ten weekend classes aren’t particularly a priority. however, they could at least offer a limited-time reduced library membership.
    PS: humiliation/condescension isn’t a LUMS thing. it’s an elite Pakistani thing. just look at some of the awful comments on this blog!Recommend

  • Jawad Ul Hassan

    In this part of the world, we want to stay the same…as books can change this course so its limited use is allowed….Recommend

  • knightridrr

    Don’t glorify yourself sneaking in and out of the campus. It’s people like you who make it hard for students trying to do things the right way like the one who wrote this article.Recommend

  • knightridrr

    Don’t glorify yourself sneaking in and out of the campus. It’s people like you who make it hard for students trying to do things the right way like the one who wrote this article.Recommend

  • Rehan

    Stop asking for aid. Look at the fees you are charging. Cut down on the “non-profit” you guys are makingRecommend

  • LUMS alumni

    Lahore wala,

    I am a LUMS graduate who has also studied at LSE in London. What Khurram has said is 100% correct. LSE allows anyone to use its libraries.

    Despite being a LUMS graduate, I think the LUMS policy of not allowing all of it’s students (enrolled in any program) to use the library is absurd, appalling and against the true spirit of education.Recommend

  • Gulwant Singh.

    What is LUMS ? Sounds like a Bad Disease. Like typhoid, malaria,
    yellow fever,..?Recommend

  • Aries

    Ms Kiran,

    You really should get thinking beyond the obvious and shallow, implying that just because they did not give you access to the library means the LUMS has become a money minded institution is beyond understanding, and only a manifestation of the narrowness of your thought, which is obviously unable to appreciate the other issues associated with this process, and of course the fact that the LUMS is actually a private institution, which has worked very hard to give opportunities to deserving students…. Through it’s financial aid and the national outreach program. Furthermore it has had the corporate world as well as it’s alumni s contributing to ensure appropriate financing, Yes, no government funding, and the right to self govern and make policies.

    So please take the time to go inside theinstitution and find out what it has done before you cast random comments into the public domain, without proper context, of what private institutions should or should not do!!

    Unfortunately your affliction is quite common in Pakistan these days, sermonising without proper knowledge!!

  • Adnan

    i think the writer should visit Quaid-i-Azam university islamabad. it is open for everyone.Recommend

  • sair

    Sorry but being enrolled for a Continuing Education Program (which is of a month or two duration) does not make you a student of the university (i.e a regular student pays admission fees, semester fees etc). So no need to get too upset.Recommend

  • Pawan

    I study at Froebel’s International School Islamabad, it’s a well known school, Despite paying such high fees, we are not allowed to sit there without getting a membership which is an extra 14000. If we sit, the librarian kicks us out :( Recommend

  • credulousgeek

    Oh you mean by sneaking around right people like you are the reason pakistan is at stake! Learn to feel the pain of others we all will be accountable today or later in life for every injustice caused in pakistanRecommend

  • credulousgeek

    I personally felt sad after reading this I can feel your pain but Be hold its just simple library admission stuff my cousin who is highly knowledgeable person having completed her High School from US was refused admission to LUMS but then she got admission in Boston University USA and topped there I can see the injustice conspicuously in pakistan only the powerful can enjoy the luxury life of pakistan it ain’t for commoners!Recommend

  • waqas

    quite shameful, I must say. This is the reason Pakistan doesn’t have even a single world class educational institute!Recommend

  • Abdul Qayoom

    Well your point is quite clear but the question is why to adopt that way? Why a student is directly prohibited from entering library? This is not the solution you are talking about and also it does not seem appropriate as well. This is a shortcut that ultimately one day will create problem. We always think for short term why not long term??????Recommend

  • The reluctant hypocrite

    Behan Khuda ka Khauf karo, you can easily become a member of the library even if u r not a student, if you spoke to a wrong person about this, then its not lums’ fault. Take care.Recommend

  • Arsalan Zaman Khan

    Its a God damned private university. They can allow and disallow access to anyone they want. Yes they make tons of money out of their university, is it morally wrong? Perhaps. Should society stop them from their endeavors? Absolutely not.Recommend

  • Usman

    If any of the readers have been to LUMS they would know how usually crowded the library is. The library is not very big.
    It would have been debatable if the library had enough resources to support other people but it refused them. Technically the author could have got the external membership.
    It would not have been fair to the students enrolled in degree programs in LUMS or those who pay to use the library, if their access to library services was compromised due students of CE Programme.
    Also worth mentioning is that the courses offered by this programme are very brief (10 weeks) and the fee is fraction of what students enrolled in degree programs pay.

    Library is private and its maintenance cost real money. So I think its totally justified and fair that students enrolled in degree programmes, alumnis and those with a membership (less than 350 per month ) are given priority and the standard is maintained for them.Recommend

  • Concerned

    How convenient of you to completely deride “courses like photography and painting” as “fun short courses” instead of recognizing the skill and effort that goes into learning such disciplines. Classic backward mentality which seems to imply that only students of the courses YOU deem superior etc deserve access to the library while those who pursue more unconventional interests are simply killing time. wow.Recommend

  • Ahsan

    There’s very less context given in this blog. And the library is not for public because LUMS pay a huge amount of money to give their students’ the access of international digital libraries.Recommend

  • Taimoor

    Never was it mentioned that no skill or effort goes into such things, and generally speaking photography and painting is more fun than any course history of economic thought, though each has its merits and demerits and learning !!! And never was it mentioned that I decide which courses are superior, rather a business school obviously has business and degree related courses at a higher preference than other subjects for which other specialised institutions do exist, and also no where in the article it says that such people are killing time.Recommend

  • Taimoor

    Please read the stated policy and then maybe we can talk this further, as i read the policy just to learn about this and found the details before stating it as a one time incident.Recommend

  • Mystic

    Why dictate policies to PRIVATE institutions? If they do not have capacity for short-term executive course students, they don’t.Recommend

  • Muhammad Shaheryar Asif

    I am unable to comprehend this voting, Yes 49 % 906 votes, No 51% 651 votes, Total voters 1853 ….. rigged elections just like election 2013 …. :3 :/
    P.S I know this can be some technical faultRecommend

  • JayMankind

    The entire world’s library is free and easily accessible. It is called the “Internet”.Recommend

  • Sara Khan

    It is a pathetic act on part of the university library management. When I was studying in TMUC University, even if I was studying till night they never stopped me that why are you studying or sitting here for a long time.Recommend