Mobile Library Project was launched in July 2013 in Kaw Hmu. The idea of MBL in Myanmar was first introduced by DKKF Chairperson Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as she has experience of using mobile library during her stays in Oxford. When she was released from her house arrest in 2012, she expressed her idea of MBL. We were fortunate to get donation of 2 buses from Hino Motors in 2013.
MBL project is a fully computerised modern library system reaching out to rural people and hence it has become a successful model. Main reasons of bring the success are
1. Accessibility: bringing books to the people rather than waiting people to the library.
2. Affordability: people can borrow two books at a time for two weeks free of charge.
3. Right Books: 70% of the library users are students and MBL has supported with fresh books relevant to users.
Creating a knowledge base society for most needed communities in Myanmar.
· To promote reading habit among students and villagers
· To promote the use of public libraries at the ward/village level and the systematic utilization of school libraries by school children
· To support the education system of the country with curricular and extra-curricular books (Myanmar as well as English) and educational materials suitable for students and teachers
· To establish places for accessing information relevant to rural development and to gain knowledge on livelihood, agriculture, health, job opportunities, civic education, commodity prices, etc.
· To create a knowledge-based society through books
· To organize literary talks by famous authors to promote reading habit, and to give information on civic society, health, education, economy and politics
· To provide basic computer training skills to students and interested civilians.
· To acquire required information through modern technology via the internet.
· To transform community libraries into community centres
Operation of MBL
After initial operation of MBL in Kaw Hmu, we have learned so many things through data collected from our computerised system. For example, all the books were run out on the first day of operation in Kaw Hmu so that MBL staffs had to rush to full fill the books. They became invaluable source of information for further expansion of operation throughout Myanmar. From 2013 to 2019, MBL operation has reached to 16 cities in all States and Regions of Myanmar. During six years of operation, over 166,000 books were checked out for 1,668,000 times. In other words, each book is circulated for almost 10 times. Over 130,000 people became members and 70% of them are students. Please see below infographic for detail.
A bus will stop over 2 to 3 places on each day of its operation. These places can be school, community centre or any public gathering places such as market, hospital or bank. Each member can borrow two books at a time for two weeks and the bus will rotate in two weeks cycle. MBL also borrows books to other libraries which the bus cannot reach under sub-centre approach; meaning 100 books boxes are borrowed on monthly basis.
Each MBL operation requires a base unit where books can be kept in storeroom, an office for librarian, a garage, a central library and space for ICT training. So far, over 4,200 people have graduated from basic ICT training at MBL sites. DKKF chairperson Daw Aung San Suu Kyi put enormous interest and leadership in MBL operation by visiting mobile buses, MBL offices and even reading together with kids on the bus.
DKKF partnered with Information, Public Relation Department under Ministry of Information which have community libraries in every townships. DKKF signed a MOU with IPRD in 2015 to transform community libraries into community centres across the country. Presence of community centre is a new approach for Myanmar in 2013. DKKF introduced this new concept of community centre where community people can gather and do seminars, workshops, conferences and talks for good cause of each community. Information, Public Relation Department under Ministry of Information became longstanding partners since 2015.
Donors and Partners
After initial success of MBL operation in Kaw Hmu, DKKF received donation of buses, computers, free Wifi, books and even volunteers joining the operation. We would like to acknowledge each and every donor for all the generous contribution to MBL.
Because of tremendous success of MBL throughout the county, many communities have been launching mobile libraries with motorbikes, bicycle, three-wheelers and boats throughout the country by copying the good example of MBL model. Moreover, DKKF is very pleased to see the term, “mobile”, has been using as “mobile clinic” and “mobile team”.
Since Information, Public Relation Department (IPRD) under Ministry of Information has been MBL’s focal partner for 4 years, DKKF had transferred the whole operation to IPRD in October 2019. At present, all the mobile libraries are operated by IPRD and DKKF is giving technical assistances.
Creating a knowledge base society for most needed communities in Myanmar.
At present, 20,000 to 25,000 books are circulated in each mobile library site. Most of the books are in Myanmar language and some bilingual books are circulated. Each member can borrow (2) books for (2) weeks during which members normally swap with their peers. Each member has to register but it is free of charge. Books on livelihood, agriculture, health, education, self-development, English language proficiency skills, basic computer training, and Myanmar literature including bestselling novels, short stories, poetry collections, essays, and children books will be given priority. Weekly serials are also supplied to get current affairs. A library automation software “eLib” is used to control the inventory and information on whole library system.
There are three channels of borrowing the books. First of members are borrowing from our mobile buses which regularly come to the same spot every two week. Secondly, members can come and borrow from the central library which is a base unit where we have office, store and a garage. Thirdly, we create sub-centre which are located in remote area and our buses cannot reach them. Libraries and community centres from these sub-centres regularly come to our buses every two week to pickup books.
In order to promote reading habit and gain knowledge, our centres organize literary talk and knowledge sharing sessions. Moreover, English language training skills, teachers’ training and workshop were carried out with other organizations. Famous authors and experts from various fields give talk on education, health, livelihood, agriculture, environment and many interesting topics which benefit to the community. We are also working with other charitable organizations to offer service and knowledge to the need of the community. Each centre also offers basic ICT training to the locals for digital skills. Hundreds of students have finished these trainings and have received good jobs in various fields.
MBL project will run with total support from Local and International donors. Daw Khin Kyi Foundation is set up legitimately with approval from Ministry of Home Affairs, thus, it will officially accept funds and project related materials from any person/ persons and associations/ organizations from Myanmar and abroad.
Up to date monthly account statement and stock inventory with relevant supporting documents will be kept and made available to donors on request. Audited annual financial report will be made available at end of every financial year (April – March) on Daw Khin Kyi Foundation website under sub-heading of MBL project.
Periodic impact assessment will be carried out at regular intervals every 6 months. Qualitative as well as quantitative assessment of the impact of Mobile Library Project will always be made available on DKKF website. Suggestions and comments from public through internet and website will be taken into serious account and improvement will be made to achieve best outcome.
Daw Khin Kyi Foundation MBL project will work closely with Ministry of Information and Ministry of Education to carry out field operations. Currently, Project gets support from Beyond Access, Asia Foundation, Open Society Foundation and National Library of Singapore, in forms of kind, funding and training of librarians.
At present, we are operating mobile library operations in (4) sites. We are planning to expand the operation to other regions in the near future.
Taung Thu Kone, Innsein Township & Aung Zayar Min Monasteric School, Hlaing Thar Yar Township