Libraries are suffering from a severe crisis, and this have pushed some of them to close their shops, and others who were able to withstand found themselves obliged to layoff some of their employees, and are facing difficulties in securing dollars to buy their stationery.
Merchant Ahmed Abu Zainab, owner of a bookstore in Saida, was sitting in his library waiting for customers who shifted to ask about prices before quality. Zainab told “Sawt Beirut International” correspondent Sarah Shehadeh, “None of the stationery products are made in Lebanon, the majority are imported; therefore we pay for it in dollars.”
Abu Zainab confirmed that “Prices have not increased in relation to the dollar, but the Lebanese pound have tumbled against dollar, and this had made it difficult for parents to secure the needs of their children, in addition to the fact that schools are almost closed and not buying any stationary.” For all these reasons, libraries are suffering from a very shy demand; therefore, the situation is tough.
“The price of the pen has increased from 250 LBP to 2,000 LBP.” Abu Zainab said, stressing that libraries are in danger, and that they will not last for long amid this situation. “Library owners who are still able to continue are dealing with foreign relief associations that provide donations for students, but as there aren’t any students currently, they will keep their stationery for the next year.” He added that libraries which sold their products this year will not be able to do so next year.
People cannot afford anymore meeting all the school’s requirements as buying few pens, notebooks and books requires one month salary and it may not be enough. Abu Zainab said, “It is true that we should always be optimistic, but unfortunately I am not optimistic, because the situation indicates that students will not go back to school this year, not even the next year, due to the pandemic and the arising mutated Indian virus, as well as the political conditions. If the Indian Covid-19 strain reached Lebanon, schools will not be able to open its doors; therefore we will face a disaster because students will not be able to buy stationary.
The situation of the owners of small libraries is not better, as they are afraid of an additional drop in the value of the Lebanese pound against the dollar. Students will not return to schools as well due to Corona. A citizen said, “We cannot afford buying stationary anymore, and what we’ve used to buy in bulk, we are not able anymore to buy it in pieces.”
All economic sectors in Lebanon are on the blink of collapse, and reforms in these tough times requires a miracle.