I am impressed by the recently renovated Tun Razak Library. This is a well-planned project by MBI.
The children’s section has been completely redone. It is very colourful and has an artificial tree in the centre, under which children can sit and read. The chairs and tables are placed around the sides of the room creating ample space for movement. The bird in the tree chirps when hands are clapped from a particular spot. There are PCs with internet connection. New song books for preschool children have been ordered. There is a storytelling corner. Games like Scrabble and Monopoly and others are available. There is a TV for toddlers to watch. On Saturdays this section is well patronised by parents and children; however during weekdays it is virtually empty.
During the three-month renovation of the ground floor, books on the other floors have been rearranged. Previously books were kept on different floors according to language, namely, English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Now books in all languages are grouped under subjects, for example fiction books in all languages are on the same floor. The shelves are colour coded for each language and Red is for English books. This is a good concept; however readers are complaining that they have to go to different floors to get their books. On weekdays, the lending and reference sections are deserted.
The reading section is well patronised by senior citizens. A survey must be done among the regular visitors to find out what magazines they would like to read. A form could be made available for readers to propose books to be purchased.
As one of the essential services provided by MBI to have an educated and literate population, the library must be opened at least six days a week and closed only on Mondays as was done previously. The library must be opened on Sundays to enable parents to bring their children and would also be convenient for working people. There is no point in providing facilities which are difficult to use.
The signages are only in Malay; they must be in English as well. If the government wants to enhance proficiency of the English language they need to use it. The importance of English needs no elaboration.
PAGE (Parents Action Group for Education) which promotes the teaching of English can work together with the library and conduct activities to promote the use of English. We have to start somewhere to prop up English language skills.
Let us work together and create awareness in reading among Ipohites.