READGlobal, and libraries in Bhutan

On bookstobhutan.com, we’re working to raise money to help build a library in Bhutan. Right now, there are only two lending libraries in the whole country. Here’s a story from Kuensel about the first one the organization we support, READGlobal, opened just a year ago. It’s in the village of Ura:

Bhutan’s first community library has so far proved to be an unqualified success

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Ura’s Sershong Pezoekhang 28 May, 2011 – It’s time for school and six-year-old Karma Namgay, a class II student of Ura middle secondary school (UMSS), prepares his bag, while mother packs the lunch box.

“Ama, I don’t want to take lunch,” the boy tells his mother, who is not surprised by his reluctance.

This is because Karma wants to use the one-hour lunch break at school to visit the library set up by READ (rural education and development) Bhutan, located a few minutes away from the school, rather than spend that time eating lunch.

The library has more than 2,500 books, from elementary readers, folk tales, novels, guidebooks for various subjects taught in the schools to religious texts, and is also equipped with computers.

What draws Karma to the library are the computers. “I want to learn to use the computer and, every time I get a chance, I play games; and, when I don’t get to play with the computer, I read the books, those with lots of pictures,” the little boy said.

Like him, most of the students of UMSS prefer spending their free time in the library. “Sometimes it’s difficult to get the students to go back to their classes,” the library in-charge, Tshering Choden, said.

“I’m happy that the purpose is served well,” the director of READ Bhutan chapter, Thinley Choden, said. READ’s first community library in Bhutan, Ura’s Sershong Pezoekhang, celebrated its first anniversary yesterday, since it was established in May last year.

The library, which is being run and managed by the community, is doing well so far. To support it financially, READ has given a tractor to a group of farmers, who are required to deposit Nu 15,500 monthly from their proceeds to the account of the community library.

“The group has deposited Nu 62,000 in the past four months, from which over Nu 5,000 was used to sponsor a week-long basic computer training for some youth of the community, the chairperson of the library management committee, Jamyang, said.

School dropouts and students waiting for admission to colleges are also taking good interest in reading books in the library, according to the library in-charge. Other youth of the community also use the library.

The library, in collaboration with the Loden Foundation nursery, located on the ground floor of the same building, carries out story telling and reading sessions, screening of nursery rhymes for nursery kids, and public screenings of religious movies every week.

“This library is a big gift for the community,” the chairperson of the community library said.

The READ Bhutan chapter opened in late 2008 and is a part of READ global, a non-profit organisation that seeks to help, establish community centres in the Asian region, and has chapters introduced in Nepal, India and Bhutan.

By Samten Yeshi

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