Plans to transform public library

National 3 minutes, 10 seconds

Bandar Seri Begawan

BRUNEI plans to transform the Language and Literature Bureau library in the capital into a national library, said acting head of the library’s Borrowing and Usage Unit.

In a recent interview with The Brunei Times, Patmah Hj Muhd Yusof said transforming the library would be a step by step process.

She said the library is gradually renovating and improving its services, not just in the Bandar Seri Begawan branch, but all the nine public libraries in the sultanate.

During the Legislative Council sitting earlier this year, a Belait representative had said Brunei was the only country in the ASEAN region which did not have a national library.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah had said the establishment of a national library was not given priority in the budget allocation for the 2013/2014 financial year.

Patmah said the absence of a library would be equivalent to “makan tanpa bersira” or eating food without seasoning.

“The significance of the library applies to students and the community as a whole regardless of their age, status and wealth,” she said.

Patmah went on to say that the library aspires to be a source of academic reference for university students, lecturers and researchers.

In the last two years, the library had undergone significant improvements to achieve its ambitions, she said.

One of the areas the library focused on was upgrading the book lending and returning process, as well as speeding up the searching of materials procedure.

“We added the self-loan station and barcodes within the books,” Patmah said.

“The self-scan RFID system helps those who want to borrow books check it out by themselves, rather than depend on the library attendant to serve them. This saves them time especially if there are long queues,” she added.

Patmah said more people were borrowing books as a result of the new check-out system.

“Occasionally, people borrow one or two books, but during this school holiday, some of them have even borrowed at least five books,” she said.

The library has also installed a security system as a measure to resolve the problem of visitors stealing books in the past.

“There is an alarm system in place and if anything happens, we have security guards on duty,” she said.

“We also record the borrowers’ telephone numbers, address and schools to contact them if their books are due, or if we have events happening at the library,” she added.

Siti Nur Hasimawati, a library attendant who has worked there for five years, said the library’s ASEAN section has been decorated with flags of ASEAN countries and souvenirs to attract more people to visit.

“Books on ASEAN are labelled with the ASEAN flag and individual countries have their own respective flags on it,” the 33-year-old said.

“Rather than just let the book describe the country by itself, the library staff have (for example) decorated the walls with the country’s traditional clothing to offer a visualisation of the country,” she added.

A student who was using the library, Ak Md Amir Sazreen Pg Hj Abd Rahman, said the facilities at the library were sufficient, but the Internet connection at the library could be improved.

“Besides the WiFi connection I do not see anything wrong with the library,” said the 22-year-old Business School student.

“In fact, the library looks great with the colourful painted library pillars, lockers and new computers,” he added.

His coursemate, Hj Mohd Hanifi Hj Mohd Jair, pointed out that the library is an important centre for information, especially for non-university institutions.

“For us whose education institutions do not have a library of our own, the (Language and Literature Bureau library) is a great source for textbooks and articles,” added the 20-year-old.

The Brunei Times