By Wan Mazli Bin Wan Razali (Secretary PPM Kumpulan Sarawak)
How do you feel, when you receive lots of letters asking for books from the community for their rural or suburban school libraries, mosques and village reading corners? Those champions from their villages or schools are doing what is best to get people or organizations to donate books to them and support reading habits in their own community. The Librarians Association of Malaysia (PPM), Sarawak Chapter plays its functions and responds to the community’s requests to support their reading needs. Although the association has no specific funding to support the requests, we are creating a channel for the community to help themselves. The community’s reading needs should a concern to inculcate reading habits and make reading a culture. This will help them gain new knowledge to enhance their way of thinking and decision making in their lives.
Encouraging people to share their reading materials is our main aim to support the idea of reaching out to communities who lack reading materials. The solution is meant to create a channel for people to donate their used reading materials, and create a place where we can compile the reading materials and later, distribute it to the communities.
The “BookShare” community project was established and launched on 7 March 2013 with five collection points in Kuching City and Kota Samarahan.
“BookShare” is made up of a 1.5 feet width and 2 feet tall wooden box, painted with green colour which is the corporate colour of PPM Logo, and located at the agreed locations by the library’s authorities to encourage book donations by the communities.
The “BookShare” reach out project has benefitted Schools (14), Reading Corners (4), Non-Government Organisation (2), Village Library (1) and Mosque (2) and serves about 15,000 population, amongst them are children, teachers, teenagers, youths, adults and senior citizens. In 2014, a BookShare box has also been stationed at Sarawak State Library, Miri.
The approach is to provide the children and teenagers with a variety of selections for reading materials for their daily reading needs. The books collected comprise multilingual languages and of various subjects. During the handing process of books, activities such as literacy program, talks and hands-on activities will be organized for the community and school children as well. Teaching information literacy is conducted by librarians to different categories including children, family, teenagers and for general public.
The Role of Social Media
The use of social media like Facebook and Whatsapp helps in promoting this BookShare initiative and keep the community updated on the number of books collected and the locations for distribution. The Committee members’ are very committed and they take responsibility to use Whatsapp as the alternative channel to virtually meet and discuss the action plans for every BookShare project.
Children Love Books
Since the launch of BookShare, 11,224 books were collected and 8,844 books were distributed to schools, charity bodies, mosques and village reading corners in Sarawak namely Kuching, Miri, Bintulu, Sarikei, Betong, Samarahan dan Serian. The most popular requests are books for children.
Future BookShare Potentials
The people of Sarawak have seen the potential of BookShare initiatives to help spread the reading habits and support reading for the betterment of the community. The project will be extended to two more new locations in Miri and Kuching. The PPM Sarawak Chapter continues to update the BookShare initiatives via social media and instant messaging for the community to know the development of their donated books. The Bookshare Boxes are placed at various locations and the library and association continue to collect books from the community to give back to the needed parties to enhance reading culture and life-long learning.