A FOUNDATION to support the development of libraries in rural areas established by a group of writers hopes to raise K300 million (about US$330,000) in donations in 2011, a senior member said last week.
The Myanmar Libraries Foundation, a non-government organisation established in 2009, uses the bank interest generated from its pool of donations to hold promotional activities at and provide equipment to struggling libraries across the country.
Group member Chit San Win, a well known author, told The Myanmar Times that the foundation uses its funds to open new libraries, purchase equipment and books for existing village libraries, conduct training sessions for library staff and hold promotional events to encourage reading.
He said that while 55,755 of the country’s 64,989 villages – more than 85 percent – have a library, according to the Ministry of Information, little more than half of them are operating because of a lack of funding.
“We encourage the opening of libraries but there are many reasons why they do not function properly, including a shortage of librarians, buildings, furniture and a lack of knowledge as to how to use a library properly,” said Chit San Win, who has penned about 170 books in his career.
“We will provide additional support to the libraries that are actually open and then also find out which libraries are not open yet and try to solve the problems there.”
He said the foundation relied on donors and welcomed pledges either in cash or kind.
“We have already received K700 million and hope to have raised K1 billion altogether by the end of this year. We will use the funds efficiently to develop libraries across the country.”
The Myanmar Libraries Foundation was established by private media groups, authors, artists and other supporters. The group deposits the donations it receives in a bank account and uses the interest generated – about 12pc a year – to fund its programs.
The foundation originated from a village libraries program launched by the Ministry of Information in 2005 that encourages famous writers to open libraries in their hometown.
Chit San Win was one of nine writers that are taking part in the program, establishing a library in Yitkangyi village in Bago Region’s Kawa township. Other participants include Thawtar Swe, who opened a library in Paungde township, Bago Region.