New Straits Times - - VIEWPOINT - ZARINA ZAINUDEEN Ipoh, Perak

FOR a week last month, Li­braries Week (Oct 8-13) cel­e­brated the na­tion’s much-loved li­braries. It was a time to re­mind the pub­lic about the con­tri­bu­tions li­braries, li­brar­i­ans and li­brary work­ers made to their com­mu­ni­ties.

As one who uses pub­lic li­braries, I was dis­mayed at the way the Tun Razak Li­brary in Ipoh, Perak, is be­ing man­aged. Suf­fice to say, it was be­low ex­pec­ta­tions.

The li­brary is in the city cen­tre, next to a school and near the mag­is­trate’s court.

The last time I vis­ited the li­brary was 20 years ago. How­ever, when I was there re­cently, I felt like time had stood still since 1998. It looked the same, with the same coat of paint and the same, an­cient rules and reg­u­la­tions.

Let me start with the bor­row­ing rules. I can­not ac­cess the on­line li­brary cat­a­logue from home. If the li­brary aims to be user friendly, one should be able to re­quest and re­new books from their web­site, choose which branch to pick them up from and re­turn the books to any branch, in­clud­ing the mo­bile li­brary, if there is one.

With ad­vance­ment in tech­nol­ogy, not al­low­ing one to bring charg­ing ca­bles to the li­brary for their elec­tronic de­vices is un­think­able. In this day and age, al­most ev­ery­one works from his lap­top, iPad or mo­bile phone. Just imag­ine how one should do one’s re­search in a li­brary with­out the ca­bles. Ap­par­ently, this rule ap­plies only at the Tun Razak Li­brary.

If the rea­son lies in short cir­cuits or faulty sock­ets, get­ting them fixed will at­tract more peo­ple to use the li­brary fa­cil­i­ties more of­ten. I saw a group of peo­ple in the li­brary, who were read­ing news­pa­pers, and only a hand­ful bor­rowed books.

Per­haps, the li­brary man­age­ment can set up a mul­ti­me­dia sec­tion, where peo­ple can view or bor­row CDs or DVDs. This will be ben­e­fi­cial for the pub­lic, es­pe­cially for aca­demi­cians, teach­ers, stu­dents and chil­dren.

Even the In­ter­net con­nec­tion at the li­brary is slow. The li­brary should con­sider buy­ing new books as the ones avail­able are out­dated.

Au­thors like Enid Bly­ton and Agatha Christie do not ap­peal to young read­ers of to­day. Get­ting feed­back from the com­mu­nity on their favourite au­thors and the type of books they would pre­fer to read can eas­ily re­solve this.

Gone are the days where strict li­brar­i­ans walk around, shoo­ing kids and point­ing to the “Keep Quiet” signs. A user-friendly li­brary will be a ben­e­fi­cial meet­ing point for mil­len­ni­als to work, dis­cuss and spend their time.

When I am in a pub­lic li­brary, I feel I am a mem­ber of a wider com­mu­nity and so­ci­ety — shar­ing a pub­lic space and ser­vice, which I value.

I hope the au­thor­i­ties will look into th­ese short­com­ings and con­sider up­grad­ing the li­brary with mod­ern fea­tures.


The Tun Ab­dul Razak Li­brary needs more books that ap­peal to young read­ers.

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