Carlyle, the great Victorian thinker, defined a modern university as a collection of books. He thereby meant to emphasise the important role of books in University Education. A University library has its own contribution to make towards university education and the acquisition of knowledge. It is a treasure house of knowledge. Yet it is a treasure that is within the reach of all those who wish to grasp it.
To get the best of education, students at all Universities should be prepared to spend many hours reading and consulting books in a library. This inculcates not only the habit of study but also that of research. Reading, study and thought will encourage self-reliance and develop the critical judgement. A student will be able to form his own opinion of what he reads.
Reading thoughtfully and intensively or deeply will put the mind of a student in touch with the minds of the great authors of the past and the present. He will enjoy the company of those who are truly great. It will refine his intellect and make him really cultured.
A University is a centre of learning where students come from all parts of the earth to study and benefit from the guidance of a great teacher. To say that books are our universities is to underestimate the role of a great teacher in University education. However rich a library may be, a University cannot rely entirely on books to fulfill the aims of University education.
A teacher, who has profound knowledge of his subject, and ability to guide research, is an indispensable part of University education. He can throw light on obscurities and ambiguities that puzzle the student when thrown on his own resources. He can also guide discussion groups and make education a satisfying activity. Hence the saying “Books are our Universities” is only partly right, for there are other factors too which have to be taken into account in estimating the success of University education.