State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi observed a ceremony to hand over mobile libraries, equipment, books and publications donated by Daw Khin Kyi Foundation to the Ministry of Information, and to sign memorandum of understanding for cooperation with community centers at Thingaha Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday afternoon.
The ceremony was also attended by former President U Htin Kyaw and wife Daw Su Su Lwin, Union Ministers Dr Pe Myint, U Min Thu, Thura U Aung Ko, Dr Myo Thein Gyi, Dr Win Myat Aye, U Ohn Maung, Nai Thet Lwin; Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman Dr Myo Aung and its members, state/region ministers, deputy ministers, local and foreign donors, invited guests, officers and staff members of MoI and officials.
In delivering a speech at the ceremony, Chairperson of Daw Khin Kyi Foundation and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that the mobile library was introduced by the foundation in the country. The idea had been developed since the foundation was set up. She said the first person she needed to thank was her great Dr Ohn Mar Moe Myint. The country needed many libraries. People needed to read a lot. However, it would take time to build libraries in every town, and it would not be pragmatic. After a brief argument about this idea, Dr Ohn Mar Moe Myint decided to give in and agreed to implement the mobile library project. She devoted herself entirely to the project, and never expressed her reluctance although she resisted the idea. She brought this project to a successful conclusion. Donors from Japan, Taiwan and other countries helped in the project.
Although she thought the project would not be successful, all the books on a mobile library were borrowed by the readers within two hours in the first day. It was very encouraging to see a long queue of children. It was also understood that the project has a great potential for success. Then, the mobile library project was expanded across the country.
The State Counsellor also remarked that Myanmar people loved reading, but they had no books to read. The mobile libraries were mainly targeted for the children with the use of attractive and colorful designs. Actually, the (state-owned) libraries in many towns failed to attract both children and adults. For example, most of the books and publications at these libraries were outdated and discarded books donated by private donors. Thus, these uninteresting books could not attract readers.
The books in mobile libraries looked attractive with many pictures and brilliant colours. The pictures were eye-catching and known easily. In the rural areas, the adults also hired these books.
The foundation handed over 17 vehicles for mobile libraries, 346 sets of computer and equipment, over 110,000 books and 27 skilled personnel.
The Daw Khin Kyi Foundation has invested over K 1 billion until now since it established the mobile library project. It would be extended by signing the MoU. As the project had grown dramatically, it has become impossible for the Foundation to handle it alone. It had developed into a State project. It had been proven that the mobile libraries could reach many corners of the country, and the project is therefore handed over to the government.
The State Counsellor also expressed her satisfaction for the success of this project and thanked all persons concerned with the project, including from the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation.
She emphasized the importance of reading which could help us look into thoughts and feelings of others. Different ideas and beliefs could be understood by reading.
She also recounted her experience in a literary talk with university students that a student insisted their real lives do not seem to relate with the message in the books. The State Council explained that different matters were almost in the same degree of importance to be known like own experiences.
She also suggested that it was necessary to avoid seeing the world in a narrow scope as both personal and global views were important. Someone could compare own experiences with those of others.
She also said that it was necessary to know the dos and don’ts by taking lessons from others as reading was good for all ages and that it was necessary to take time for reading every day.
The mobile library project was started in Kawhmu township, and the success of this project had required more infrastructure such as parking spaces for mobile library cars, the storage of books, and accommodation for staff members. After discussing with the Information Minister, it was decided to base the mobile libraries in the community centres. These centres were being used for public discussions, reading and computer training courses.
The Information Minister has expected more people to use these centres as these facilities were set up for the public. The State Counsellor also appreciated the displays of cultural items in the mini museums at these centres.
She remarked that as the number of libraries was very restricted in the past, Myanmar has started to enjoy library culture at present with the increasing number of mobile libraries.
She also gave an example of museum culture with understanding about their value, accessibility and objectives. She compared the museums with the books in giving knowledge, culture, global issues and the country’s history. She remarked that the subject of culture should be intended for mutual understanding among each other.
She said that reading was for understanding others, and quoted a researcher’s appraisal of writing as a greatest revolution for human beings as reading and writing could develop human lives by sharing knowledge for the following generations.
She also said reading and writing could develop human history and culture. She then expressed her appreciation to the Information Ministry for taking over the responsibility and leading role to manage and maintain the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation and the mobile libraries.
Union Minister Dr Pe Myint’s speech
Next, Union Minister Dr Pe Myint delivered a speech.
The library of the Information and Public Relations Department (IPRD), more commonly known as the IPRD office, were working under certain limitations. From that situation, the mobile library began lending new books in Kawmhu Township. Training courses for computer skills, English proficiency and other skills essential for youths were given in conjunction with the mobile library, and that this became interesting prospect for us, said Union Minister Dr Pe Myint.
The Union Minister went on to say that if the overlooked IPRD libraries could be transformed into community centres then they would become livelier and vibrant and the staff assigned there would become more self-confident. Furthermore, these places would become more essential for their community and that this was a vision that was clearly emerging, said Dr Pe Myint.
He then said that this was the reason why they decided to transform the IPRD offices and libraries into community centres and they wished to thank the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation for giving them the necessary support and motivation to initiate that objective.The Union Minister said the IPRD offices were usually located in the centre of towns or districts but the books would be old and the buildings decrepit. He said renovation would be costly but they strived to achieve that while seeking assistance from interested persons. He said that while renovation had yet to begin, they initiated whatever activities of a community centre were possible in those old buildings.
The Union Minister highlighted the fact that the space could be used as a meeting place for two people, a reading spot, or a venue for discussion between four or five individuals. He said from there, the community centre could invite people to discuss on community matters or other affairs.
He said eventually this would make the centre indispensable among the people and urged everyone to make it so that the public could not imagine a community without a community centre. He said this would make the officials managing the centre more valuable in and out of the centre. The objective should be create a tradition so that a person would most likely answer they were going to the community centre when asked where they would be spending their time, said the Union Minister.
He expressed his gratitude for handing over the materials and duties of the community centre and for believing that it was done with the utmost trust. He said they would strive to meet that level of trust with appropriate results.
The Union Minister said they would ensure that the mechanisms and procedures instilled by Daw Khin Kyi Foundation were maintained and requested advice be given during the transition period as appropriate.
He then highlighted the people who helped and donated to the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, which included regular donors from both home and abroad. He said a portion of that donation would go to the community centres.
The Union Minister said even though the mobile libraries had already been handed over to the Ministry of Information, the duties related to it were not over yet. He said his ministry had the human resources and accompanying service potential to take the work processes to a higher level.
Which was why the ministry would warmly welcome further donations to the mobile libraries in order to expand its reach and activities, said the Union Minister, adding his modest request for continued patronage.
Next, a video clip on the activities of mobile libraries under the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation was shown.
U Ye Naing, the Director General of IPRD, and Dr Thant Thaw Kaung, Executive Committee Member of Daw Khin Kyi Foundation signed MoUs in the presence of Chairperson of the foundation and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Su Kyi and Union Minister U Pe Myint for the handover of mobile libraries and equipment of the foundation at the Community Centres, and the cooperation in community centres between the department and the foundation.
The State Counsellor and the attendees posed for documentary photos before closing the ceremony. After greeting those present at the ceremony, they looked around the displays of documentary photos about inauguration ceremonies of community centres, their activities, public talks and the activities at the centres funded by state/region governments, Hluttaws and private donors, as well as the photos for Chairperson of the foundation and the State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the community centres, mobile libraries and the vehicles of mobile libraries. The IPRD and the foundation signed an MoU in 2013 to develop an office and a libraries of IPRD’s office in Kawhmu Township, Yangon Region, into a community centre and to collaborate in the mobile library project. A three-year MoU was signed in the 2016-2017 fiscal year to expand the project across the country, which has set up a total of 16 community centres in Kawhmu, Insein, Myaungmya, Natmauk, Dekkina district, Pyinmana, Myitkyina, Mandalay, Hpa-an, Dawei, Loikaw, Sagaing, Mawlamyine, Thandwe, Hakha, Taungoo and Kalaw.
The foundation handed over K 1 billion worth of 17 vehicles for mobile libraries, 346 sets of computers and accessories, 110,000 copies of publications and 28 skilled staff members to the department.