Friday, February 9, 2007

Friday, Feb. 9 Thailand Creative & Design Center Library

The Thailand Creative and Design Center Library is a complete contrast to the National Library. This is a special library, all high tech and mod design, established by the Royal Thai Government "to foster creativity and imaginative thinking within Thai society through the sponsorship of a new educational center of international caliber." Opened in late 2005, it is a membership library focusing on entrepreneurs and university students of design, but the basic dues are kept pretty low because of government support.

Located on the top floor of the VERY upscale Emporium mall, the view is spectacular. It is an economic development initiative, and it was busy today, suggesting that it is working. They collect widely, books, journals, media, and design products (housed in a neat library arrangement of their own). Their programmer developed a system for computer screens at eye level on the book shelves whereby you can touch the screen to see what books are on the high shelves above (including images of the cover, the contents page, etc.) Pretty cool. I suspect they will run out of space here before their current lease is up in a few years. Adjacent to the library is a permanent design exhibit (an early VW Beetle, clothing, furniture, etc.) and a pretty restaurant.

Friday, Feb. 9-National Library

Today started early with a visit to the National Library (started in 1905 during the reign of King Chulalongkhorn) here in Bangkok. The photo below is of the old library, now housing a royal archival collection, but it is not where the actual work of the library takes place. That is a more modern, sprawling complex of buildings now undergoing renovation.

The National Library is basically a huge public library serving everyone who seeks service. It's open from 9 am-7 pm, seven days/week.

Funding is from the Ministry of Culture. They have some archival collections, but basically this is a service-oriented library. The National Archives is a separate entity.

The National Library has 17 branch libraries all over the country, and it is designed to be the role model for Thai libraries. Emphasis here is on providing national reference service. They have 320 staff in Bangkok and the provinces. The fact that public libraries are run by the Ministry of Education, while the National Library is run by the Ministry of Culture apparently leads to some disconnects.

The reading rooms here are organized by subject, humanities, social sciences, sciences, etc. Most librarians have bachelors degrees in library science, only a few have masters degrees.

From what I can see, I'm sorry to say the library appears to be underfunded for fulfilling its important mission.

The photo of me and my colleagues standing on the steps was taken at a museum honoring King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) and his good works in the early 20th century. This is on the grounds and is part of the National Library. It is a sort of diorama with scenes of his life and contributions to Thailand (then known as Siam).

This is Pormpimol in the Thesis room, where copies of dissertations and theses from throughout Thailand are housed.