August 19, 2016

Public library, the gateway to well-informed society

It is encouraging to hear that the government has decided to relocate the National Library from a secluded to convenient place in the centre of downtown in Yangon. The National Library will settle in the historic building that once belonged to Burma Oil Corporation (BOC) during the colonial era. The chosen location is on Merchant Street, Pabedan township, surrounded by financial institutions and recreation centres.
A public library is explicitly defined as a centre of information from which individuals, regardless of age, race, gender, religion and social status, can derive benefit a lot. In other words, the library is a place where information and knowledge are readily available to users. There is every reason to believe that public libraries play a vital role in promoting literacy rate by developing reading habits in people of all ages. In addition, distinguished academics and researchers often compare public libraries to the gateway to a repository of knowledge, which they believe is central to the establishment of social, cultural and religious cohesion across society.
It is, however, claimed that the advent of new technology has led to a dramatic decrease in the number of library users, making the habit of reading obsolete. This does not necessarily mean that libraries are dying. Frankly, there is so much more a library can offer than can a computer with an access to the internet. Just as the convenient location is of importance, a public library should be equipped with good study facilities, quiet reading rooms, free internet access and relevant technologies. Another critical point that should not be overlooked is sufficient opening hours.
At a time when our country is striving to promote democracy through public participation, the strength of well-informed citizens will be an invaluable asset to the prevalence of justice, freedom and equality in society.


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