Bookworms turn a page with reading rooms in Myanmar
Although Myanmar has tens of thousands of libraries they are poorly stocked and staffed, pushing avid readers to set up cooperative reading rooms and self-reliant libraries, which take small fees from users, writers and bookworms said.
“Reading literature develops the brain so our country needs good libraries. In colonial times, readers, publishers and people who loved literature had reading associations and exchanged knowledge and literature. nowadays, I don’t see a single library that is big and has good service in Yangon,” said writer Pe Myint.
The libraries set up by the government in every ward are rarely used, city residents said.
Libraries have haphazard selections of books, erratic opening hours and a shortage of staff, they said. “They have books but not the kind of books I want to read,” said a resident of Dagon Seikkan township. “When I went to library, it was closed or no one was on duty. That’s why I won’t go to the library to read,” he added.
Libraries also lack daily newspapers and journals, the founder of a self-reliant library in Yuzana Garden City said.
Pensioner Aung Hla said he liked to read the latest journals, but the library in his ward did not carry them. “I can’t buy all the journals so I go to a small reading room,” he said.
The reading room he goes to receives donations of books and journals and is being transformed into a self-reliant library, he said.
Residents of suburban townships said they had established reading rooms that allow users to pool and share resources to expand their access to books and journals.