GOOD news must be shared. Grandpa said so while I was in my childhood. This valuable guidance always make me share good news whenever I hear it. Now, a little bird has whispered to me that we are going to have our National Library in Yangon in 2020. Book-worms of Yangon will be everjoyed at the news for sure. It is simply because they are thirsting for having the National Library in the heart of the city to which common people can have easy access.
There is no city (of a country) in the world that is not proud of its own modern and splendid National Library.
No one can deny that wider knowledge is essential for building a nation towards development of race, languag and religion. While the government is deeply engaged on political, economic and social reforms, it never loses sight of dissemination of knowledge.
What then is the best way to disseminate knowledge? This is none other than to build libraries in the country. To ahcieve this and, the government has opened libraries in various townships throughout the states and regions. Objectively, I cannot tell the exact number of public libraries all over the country. (According to the statistics of 2011, a total of 55,755 village libraries have been opened nationwide with the investment of over 11 billion kyats. However, the number remains a puzzle to me.) We can assume that reading rooms, or libraries the Information and Public Relations Department has already established in rural areas may be called ‘Public Libraries’.
According to the World Book Encyclopedia (Vol.12), public libraries range in size from huge city, borough, or country libraries with dozens of branches to smalltown Libraries that occupy only one room. No matters what their size or where they are located, all public libraries have the same goal--to be of maximum service to their community.
In this way, public libraries aim to serve all members of a community:—children, young adults, and people from all walks of life. People use public libraries for schoolwork, for their jobs, and for leisure activities. Whatever it may be, such libraries, therefore, stock a variety of books and other materials and provide services for members of the community.
Generally, when we talk about libraries, we cannot skip the role of public libraries among various types of libraries. First thing, they can give the public all the education they need without any cost. Second thing, books on various subjects--ranging from encyclopedias to the Latest issue of Guinness World Records--are inviting the people from all walks of life including students, teachers, businessmen, service personnel, scholars and so on.
Among them, the National Library is the one that shows the national prestige value. Nations of the world do show their prestige value of owning their national libraries.
While I was in public service, I had been to national libraries of Thailand, Japan and Pakistan. I saw the librarians, and the service personnel talk pride of woking in such libraries and they boastfully talk about their national libraries.
During my stay in Washington DC. on 2016, I chanced to visit the Library of Congress. According to the pamphlet they gave me, The Library of Congress is the world’s largest repository of knowledge and creativity, with a growing collection of more than 162 million items, including books, print materials, sound recordings, photographs, maps, sheet music, motion pictures and manuscripts in more than 470 languages. I was told that the Library of Congress was established in 1800.
When I visited such a big and grand library of world standard, I could visualize our National Library which was located in Yankin Township where common people hardly visit.
However, it was the Global New Light of Myanmar of 28-11- 2019 issue that carried an item of good news on the visit of President U Win Myint to the National Library (Yangon) located on Merchant Street in Pabedan Township. Regarding the reports, the President remarked that the National Library (Yangon) was intended for citizens from all social strata, and that it was relocated to the hub of Yangon City to promote the general knowledge and intellectual capacity of the people and that it would be benefical to the country. And the President also remarked that the National Library (Yangon) would benefit the country as it would be widely used by the common people as well as professionals.
May I recount the story. In 28 July, 2016, a coordination meeting took place at the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw to discuss the relocation of the National Library to a convenient environment in the commerical hub of Yangon City. The meeting reached an agreement to move the library from Yankin Township to Pabedan Township. Exactly, the new location of the National Library is at No.604/ 608, Merchant Street, Pabedan Township in Yangon .
The National Library, indeed, has a long history.
The Bernard Free Library (1883) was handed over to the Ministry of Culture in 1952 and renamed State Library, which was opened at the Jubilee Hall in Yangon on 1st June, the same year. After being renamed National Library, the facility was moved to a building in Pansodan Street and then to Yangon City Hall.
Due to the ups-and-downs of life, the library was moved to former six-storey building before setting in Tamway Township. Then it was moved to Tamway building where it suffered some damages from the Cyclone Nargis in 2008. As a result, the National Library was moved to the old building that belonged to the Office of the Ministry of Forestry at 85 (a), Thiri Mingala Street on Kaba-aye Pagoda Road. As the location was rather far from down town Yangon, common people except scholars and professionals hardly visit the National Library.
We can be proud of the National Library (Nay Pyi Taw) which is located near the kumudra Circle in Ottra Thiri Township, Nay Pyi Taw. The foundation was laid down in 2010 and the library was open to the public in 2013.
The National Library of Myanmar is one of the national level institutions of the country under the auspices of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture. The Library provides the services of reference, reading room, periodicals, children corner, photocopying, library and the Internet.
Although Nay Pyi Taw, the capital city of Myanmar, can possess the national image, I have been longing for a grand and impressive one in Yangon. Nay Pyi Taw is Nay Pyi Taw. But as for me, Yangon is Yangon which is known to the reading public and the world as well.
According to the news, some 42,383 rare publications, 38,083 books and 2,467 sets of palm leaves inscribed with ancient literature have been moved to the library and remaining literary items are being located.
Furniture and equipment have been placed. Library management system is undergoing a detail inspection, together with data entry and linking e-book files with the system.
A library is regarded as one of the best institutions for knowledge, spreading of civilization and uplift of the people.
The new building of National Library which is opposite the Maha Bandoola Park is now waiting for you.
Books and reading materials on various subjects are now inviting you. Why don’t you come and invest your energy in the National Library? It will surely refresh you.
Eureka ....Our National Library (Yangon) at last!!
1. The Global New Light of Myanmar, 28-11-2019
2. The Mirror Daily, 19-12-2019
Original Source: MOI