The Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation (MBAPF) has launched a program to transform Myanmar’s public libraries into modern community hubs that provide access to information and technology.
The Beyond Access Myanmar program, which is being carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Information, Ooredoo and IREX, will equip 55 public libraries with tablet computers and internet provided by Ooredoo this year.
Librarians at participating libraries will receive critical training in the skills necessary to facilitate use of technology to improve people’s lives, the organisation said. Librarians will improve their capacity to introduce new users to the internet, assist community members to access government services online and help children learn to read with the latest technology, it added.
Anyone will be able to visit participating libraries to use the tablets and internet free-of-charge.
Ross Cormack, CEO of Ooredoo Myanmar, said: “We think Myanmar’s public libraries are a great starting point for people to enter the information society. We are delighted to partner with Myanmar’s libraries to help everyone in Myanmar gain access to and learn how to use the internet effectively.”
For this stage of the program, MBAPF selected 11 “library clusters” based on an application process that gave communities and librarians the opportunity to express their commitment to the program’s goals.
Each cluster includes one district or township-level library and 3-5 smaller, community-level libraries. The list of libraries participating in this first stage will be announced this month.
In 2015, the program partners are aiming to bring in many more libraries and communities.
U Ye Tint, director general at the Ministry of Information, said, “Making the internet access available to the people of Myanmar is educating the people of Myanmar in a way. … we’ll support more libraries in the future as well.”
With this program, Myanmar joins a global community of countries modernising their public libraries to serve 21st century needs through the Beyond Access program. Countries currently participating include the Philippines, Uruguay, Peru, Georgia, Nigeria and Namibia.