Libraries’ transformative power should never be underestimated. Libraries frequently serve multiple functions in society, ranging from information repositories and safe spaces to facilitators and accelerators of social mobility, all of which are essential components of a thriving civil society and a vibrant democracy.

Libraries are a lifeline for Marya Rehman. Growing up in an East London working-class family, the local library expanded her mind, improved her expression, and allowed her to reflect on the world beyond her front door.

It also inspires her to strive for excellence in everything she does, from excelling in school to studying social and political science at Cambridge University to pursuing her dream job. As the new National Director of the British Council Sri Lanka, Maarya will keep supporting libraries and the power they have to change people’s lives.

She worked as a public library specialist in London and the UK before joining the British Council, focusing on modernising library services and responding to the changing needs of 21st-century libraries and their patrons.

“Libraries should not be silent; they should shout,” she joked, referring to the unofficial title of one of her many library projects. She is a passionate advocate for library empowerment, and in a TED talk, she discusses the power of libraries and their importance as gathering places for people from all walks of life.

She also believes it is critical to respond to the call for digitization and was involved in the global launch of the Digital Wall project, which was launched in Pakistan. Sri Lanka has already installed digital walls at three local universities, and Maarya hopes to instal more in the future so that people can access millions of valuable resources directly from their mobile phones.

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