Established since 1908 in the heart of Yangon, exactly on the Merchant Street in Pabedan Township, a hundred years old building would soon become a sophisticated urbane modern documentation venue in the name of National Library (Yangon).
Director Daw Yee Yee Htwe of the Library said, “The structure is under renovation and repair for quite some time. Currently, collections and documentations are in progress. Task is almost completed about ninety per cent. It doors for the public would open in the first week of April.”
Earlier, the National Library (Yangon) is given access to the public at 85 (A) on Thiri Mingalar Lane, (Off) Kaba Aye Pagoda Road. For much easier accessibility for the general public, U Htin Kyaw, Former President had directed on 27 July 2016 to move the library to 604 / 608 on Merchant Street in Pabedan Township.
With speed, the building under reference is taken up for renovation and refurbishment, with the original architectural design intact, under the good eyes of professionals from the Yangon Heritage Trust; the people from architect circle; the skilled persons from construction sector; and the librarians. The work had started to roll on 1 July 2017.
“Being one hundred years old building with Yangon Heritage Trust Classification, it has not taken up lightly to change into an instant library. With the evaluation of professionals and skillful persons, the structure has been taken up for renovation,” Director Daw Yee Yee Htwe explained.
Standing tall, the four-storied building has two beautiful entrances. Each and every floor has been maintained in national heritage style and that the walls have been embedded with mottos with regards to the library.
“Knowledge and Human Resources is inseparable”
“Let us use library for extensive reading to broaden the knowledge horizons”
Valuable remarks of former United Nations Secretary General U Thant could be seen as follows.
“Reading makes the people developed, and that the developed people go on reading”.
Flowers and festivals round the year Myanmar composed and written by ancient scholar Pho Thu Daw U Minn could be enjoyed as they are depicted on the wall in English and in Myanmar.
Grandeur of ground floor
Intended as the future Exhibition Hall, the ground floor has been earmarked to showcase interesting items for the public. Colorful tiles with one hundred years’ time span have been displayed at the entrance in attracting and catching the eyes of the guests to the library.
Moreover, the Main Data Center of the library is allocated on the ground floor with full functioning. While the collection and display of the Yangon Library are filling up the mobile shelves with motley assortments of various books and magazines of different eras in a neat, tidy and eye-catching manner.
One may climb up the normal stairways to the upper floor or may just step into the elevator to have access to other areas of the library.
For the comfort mobility of the persons with disabilities (PWDs), the paths for the use of wheelchairs have been fitted in the library.
First floor presentation of the library
Equipped with modern facilities, the meeting and conference room for local event as well as foreign gathering with the capacity of 250 guests is being staged on the first floor.
Moreover, the Multi-Media Room with modern method of information gatherings is installed. The Multimedia Information System (MMIS) is a digital library system solely beneficial for the library users in getting international publications on wide-ranging subjects, various magazines, and research documents. Online data and information could be accessible along with self study for different languages.
At the digital library, users are accessible to an online data base in addition to the collection of data and information collected from the National Library.
For those who wish to search data and information may have the opportunity at the digital library through online application. The room could accommodate (100) users.
The books upkeep at the National Library is accessible to the users as they have been systematically categorized and catalogued through modern techniques.
Arrangements at the second floor of the library
Welcoming the library users at the second floor is the general reading room, where cozy seats are arranged for easy sitting and reading. The floor is filled with newspapers, journals, magazines printed and circulated within one year along with assortment of publications and books in English and in Myanmar presented in neat and systematic display in self browsing open-access shelves system.
“Shelf browsing is the act of finding books in a library by looking through the books on the shelves without consulting the catalogue first and without looking for any book in particular. One may just make a quick glance over the contents of the book”, explained Director Daw Yee Yee Htwe.
What is more, the reference reading room on the second floor is furnished with varieties of books and documents on the topic Myanmar being written in Myanmar language as well as in the English language.
Publications undertaken by the government departments, books for learners in different ethnic languages, printed items released in different ethnic languages, the publications from the United Nations, books written about the nations of ASEAN, and printed materials written in different foreign languages.
Readers have the opportunity to enjoy the books at their own pace and liberty. However, the books and documents from the reference room are not permitted to take outside.
Moving ahead from the second floor, one can find the treasure of words presented in a most advanced, systematic and comprehensive manner.
Motley assortments of books and documents are there such as rare materials being preserved and maintained through successive eras published before 1948 ; the books and journals published before 1962; collections of Kinwun Min Gyi’s literary works; collection of authoritative scholar Bagan Superintendent U Tin ; collections of Bernard Free Library; collections of Palm-leaf manuscripts; Para Beik collections; handwritten literatures; the first ever newspaper in Myanmar called Maulmain Chronicle; the Yadanabon Nay Pyi Taw newspapers printed during King Mindon era; copies of newspapers being circulated during successive eras; rare books; and journals.
The original and substantive documents highly valuable for the researchers are systematically kept layer by layer in the room.
Director Daw Yee Yee Htwe continued, “The books are not permitted to take away from the room. They are to be read right here. Mostly, the information being converted into digital format could be available. In case if the researcher is in dire need to see the original documents, then the request could be complied.”
As precautionary measure, all the books and documents are recorded and registered through Radio Frequency Identification for security reason. They are not supposed to take away from the premises of the library.
Children friendly third floor
One of the attractions at the National Library (Yangon) is the children friendly library room, being equipped with the intention for children friendly atmosphere and to nurture the kids with the reading habits since childhood.
The third floor is loaded with the books featuring cartoons, fairy tales, colorful paintings added up with colored sofa seating, displays of traditional dolls and toys. Moreover, the children story telling room is provided for the attraction of the kids, as welcoming gestures to the young.
With enthusiasm, Director Daw Yee Yee Htwe explained, “In making the kids happy and joyful and to make them friendly with the library, in addition to reading habits, we provided the kids with materials to play. We wanted them to have the feeling of regular visiting venue. The main aim is to make them friendly with the library and sowing the seed of reading habits.”
Reading room for persons with disabilities
It is indeed a rare setting to see a reading room for the persons with disabilities (PWDs) at a library. After due consultation with the associations in the circle of disabilities, most valuable advice are being sought. Next, it is equipped with a reading room at the library for the disabled persons with vision and hearing impaired.
At the extraordinary reading room for the disabled, the knowledge books, inspirational literatures, assortments of writings featured in the format of Braille presentation, including various voice files, have been provided to the users. Surely, that particular reading room would fill the satisfaction of heart and soul to the disabled who loved to read.
With strong conviction, Daw Yee Yee Htwe told, “In the initial stage, the associations working for the disabilities would lend hands in the reading campaign. For the vision impaired persons, the collections in Braille format included many inspirational books, the most popular book entitled Tway “Blood Bond” by Journal Kyaw Ma Ma Lay, tales and many other literatures are collected and rendered as much as possible in the library.”
On this particular floor, spaces are designated for the post graduate library diploma; the short term training courses; the private group-wise discussion special room.
As reading and coffee, goes hand in hand, a coffee shop is on the agenda at the roof top with the panoramic bird’s eye view of Yangon and it’s surrounding.
Grand opening is on the agenda at the National Library (Yangon), and that the library is accessible independently to all citizens by showing Identification Card at the Information Desk.
Associate guest citizens and foreigners may require producing the Passports or the Identity Cards. Kids under the age of (12) are eligible to the library accompanied by a guardian.
The National Library (Yangon) is ready to serve with the best quality offering to the readers with the collections of books, magazines, journals, palm-leafs literature, Para Beiks, hand written manuscripts, and rare collections at the library.
Moreover, a lot of books would be available to take away for home reading. Furthermore, the library would render best services to the researchers within the bind of existing library rules and regulations.
Endeavoring the best for 2020 April first week opening
Preparations and renovation for the opening of new National Library (Yangon) is almost completed. It is earmarked for the opening in the first week of April 2020.
In the historical and prestigious building that is listed in the Yangon National Cultural Heritage, with the time passage of over 100 years in the vicinity, a reader could be able to have access and relax in the most comfortable zone equipped with fully air conditioned rooms. One may enjoy good feeling in reading the literature, the culture, the historical heritages, and wide ranging knowledge.
In conclusion, Director Daw Yee Yee Htwe of National Library (Yangon) winded up by saying, “The National Library represents the nation. There is no discrimination to the readers irrespective of age and educational qualification. All the readers are warmly welcome to the Library”. Translated by UMT (Ahlon)