Thursday, October 13, 2005

Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia

This afternoon, Anne and I went to the National Library. We thought we could spend some quality times exploring The National Library. It was my idea actually. When I was a little boy, father drove me to the National Library every week. I would borrow 2 books each week.. especially books by Enid Blyton. It was a joy and very exciting time for me. My love for reading and to books were cultivated that way.

The old National Library was in this building opposite Plaza Hotel in Jalan Tiong Nam in Kuala Lumpur. It is very accessible. All major buses will pass through this building as it is located in one of the major roads to the city. Then, the library was a big place. There were lots of people going to the library. It was like the next best thing at that time because we didn't have a lot of stores selling books. The most prominent book stores at that time was Antonio Book Stores. How many here have been to Antonio's? There was a branch in Jalan Brickfields and another one in Wilayah Kompleks. I bought lots of Famous Five books from these book stores. With such a limited number of stores, it was not a wonder that the National Library was popular as it was the only source for good English Books.

Then, the government decided to relocate the library to a bigger building. It was moved to Jalan Tun Razak - which is near Istana Budaya (the Cultural Center) and Balai Seni Lukis (Arts Center). I know it makes sense to grouped all these cultural and intellectual buildings together but at that time it was a stupid decision. There are NO buses going to Jalan Tun Razak. One need a car to get to the National Library. How could students like me, then 15 year old, get to the library? It's not even within walking distance.

The number of readers to the library dropped. Nobody bothers to go there anymore. People just don't read anymore. Luckily, there were other bookshops popping up - Times and mph. But books are too expensive. Only the middle class and above could afford them. What did I do? I joined the British Council as they have a very good library. British Council is located near Daya Bumi, again at a major road to the city with lots of busses.

Just last week, Anne and I passed through the National Library. The building is huge. It must hold lots of treasures. I was curious. I wanted to satisfy my urge to see what the old National Library that I used to hang out looked like. So I suggested that we go visit one day.

And so here I was...

I could sum up my experience in one word: DISAPPOINTMENT.

The National Library is a disgrace! It's like over the years, they have not had any new books. The place was huge.. yes.. but the number of books it hold were so small in comparison. I mean, even Kinokuniya or Borders houses more books that Malaysia's National Library!!! When I walk into Kino, I have the "wow.. I could spend the whole day here!" feeling. Walking into the NATIONAL LIBRARY, I had a "there's nothing here to read! I want to be out of here asap!" feel.

If this is the state of the National Library, I can't imagine how the school library looks like.

Malaysia (and fellow Malaysians), I feel so sad for us...

2 comments:

Bahija said...

I share the same thought and feeling ..... fellow Malaysian - what a kelian society

rotitelur said...

I went to the KSland new national library few weeks ago, I hate to say that I was so impressed.....

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