Upgrading the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Public Library

The library has more than 4,000 members with almost 2,000 active members. About 70 percent of the members are children below class X. Juvenile fiction is the most popular genre.

Bhutanese children at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Public Library. (Source: https://www.facebook.com/pg/JDWPL/photos/)

 

Although the only public library in Thimphu, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Public Library has enough resources, the library is still in need of an upgrading of its infrastructure to fully utilise its resources.

The Officiating librarian, Tshering Phuntsho, said that the library has adequate resources such as books, furniture, equipment and internet facilities but it lacks a proper place for the storage of the resources.

“If we have a building we can create better rooms for the readers. We can provide better facilities for the readers.”

 

 

The 39-year-old library has more than 50,000 books, about 20 computers, and furniture such as book shelves, tables and chairs in the one-storey library in Chubachu as well as the library at the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) premises. Between 2015 and 2018, the library bought about 22,000 books.

Lack of space a hindrance in carrying out activities in the library

Tshering Phuntsho said that although library members have increased over the years, the number of participants and frequency of activities the library carried out has decreased.

“The main reason for the decline is the lack of space. Readers are cramped, which creates an uncomfortable environment.”

He said that the library has repeatedly submitted proposals to the thromde for years and the thromde’s response is always the lack of budget. “Our proposals have to be routed through the thromde, as it is our parent agency.”

It first put up a proposal to construct a new structure in 2000.

In 2015, the reading year 2015, the library had approached the government with a proposal. Although the government had rejected the proposal for a new building, it provided the library with Nu 27 million. The library used the fund to procure resources such as furniture, computers, books, stationeries and plants.

The library was provided a space at the RUB premises for three years, which ended last year. Tshering Phuntsho said that the library is looking into extending the contract period.

“Although having a space at RUB has helped us a lot, it will be more comfortable to have our own independent space.”

He said that most members come in casually and this prevents members from going to the library in RUB.

The Mobile Bus Library

Starting in 2013, the library also initiated the  mobile library service where a bus carrying about 5,000 books goes to about five different locations in Thimphu every Sunday. The bus stops for about three hours in each location, allowing people on the spot to read.

Tshering Phuntsho said that the service covers two locations every Sunday. The bus can accommodate about 20 people inside.

He said that the bus also carries additional carpets in case the bus is filled. “In future, we are looking into letting people borrow books during the mobile service.”

The library has more than 4,000 members with almost 2,000 active members. About 70 percent of the members are children below class X. Juvenile fiction is the most popular genre.

Lack of budget to expand library

Thimphu Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said that the thromde has plans to construct a five-storey building in the same location where the current one-storey library stands.

“However, we have not been able to go through with the plan due to lack of budget.”

 

By Karma Cheki (This article has been edited for the New Bhutan Times)

This article first appeared on Kuensel.

 


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