Friday, October 28 2016


Village library nurtures passion for reading

Update: January, 03/2016 - 07:25

Quiet retreat: Huy's small library has become the local people's favourite place for relaxation.

by Phan Xam - Thu Huong

Retired teacher Dao Quang Huy, who lives in Song Khe Village in the northern province of Bac Giang is a tireless worker, who never shies away from doing something for the benefit of society.

With the aim to develop reading habits and expand knowledge among the local residents, Huy has endlessly travelled to many places to collect thousands of books for the local library.

Cho Di La Con Mai (The Power of Giving) by American authors Harvey McKinnon and Azim Jamal is the title of Huy's favourite book, which teaches the invaluable lesson: the more you give, the more you have. Its philosophy is also his life principle. Huy's idea of managing the local library is driven by the thought of giving or sharing, and making life more beautiful.

Despite being 83 years old, he is still agile and has a sound mind and sonorous voice.

"Life means sharing and helping others ceaselessly," said Huy, while showing his favourite book.

"I hope this library can help share the knowledge and nurture a reading culture among everyone. The reading culture here is still under-developed," he adds.

Huy recalls, how in 1945, when he was only 15 years old, he worked as a messenger for the Vietnamese resistance army against French troops.

After the border campaign in 1950, Huy was sent to study pedagogy in China. On coming back to Viet Nam, along with 15 other volunteers, he travelled to the mountainous northern province of Ha Giang to work as a teacher at the Dong Yen Primary School, which is located in an underprivileged area of the region.

As the eldest child in the family, while his other siblings chose to work far away from home, Huy returned home to continue teaching until he retired.

Bibliophile: The 80-year-old librarian enthusiastically introduces new books to readers. — Photos

During the last three decades of being a Party member, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his hometown. Huy has always been an exemplary villager and initiator, with his high sense of responsibility at display in many of the campaigns launched in the village.

As soon as Bac Giang City advocated the idea of establishing libraries within communes in 2012, Huy, 80 years old at the time, volunteered to work as a librarian.

"Nowadays, the technology is well-developed. I have witnessed many students, who only stick to their computers or tablets instead of reading books, which also encouraged me to take on this new role," Huy notes.

The library in the Song Khe Commune was originally the library of the village, set up on a small scale, with barely any furniture and carrying just about 1,000 old books.

After taking on the role of a librarian, he has frequently ridden his bike to many donators within the commune to collect old books and reading furniture.

At present, Huy's library houses over 5,000 books on various subjects, such as history, philosophy, folk stories, children's stories related to life skills. Two-third of these books have been collected personally by Huy.

"The number of books has been sufficient to serve all readers, from the young to the old, from war veterans to the students," he says.

Recently, Huy set up a separate section for books on President Ho Chi Minh, and another one on army books.

Containing many interesting books and offering free entry, the library has become a favourite destination for relaxation for more and more readers, both young and old, who used to rarely read books before.

Books galore: Huy has travelled to many donors to collect thousands of books for the local library.

A notebook that keeps a record of the book borrowing has the names of over 500 people, who have become frequent visitors at the library. Huy's books especially attract readers from not only his village, but also nearby communes.

Ly Dinh Khau, a 90-year-old, is also the oldest member of the library, and is keen on reading historical books. He said that as an elderly person, he has much free time, and Huy's library has helped alleviate his daily boredom.

Small children also enjoy their time in the library, such as Dao Van Thanh, a fifth-grader from the local school. Being all too familiar with the bookshelves in the library, Thanh immediately recognised the location of his favourite books.

"I'm very happy because the library is next to my house. Since I can borrow books for free, I don't have to borrow from my friends anymore," he says.

"I also hold Huy in high esteem, because he usually recommends interesting books to read," he adds.

During the past two years, Huy has also collected Braille books and newspapers for nearly 20 blind readers within the commune, which are classified into many kinds, such as culture, law and fiction.

Nguyen Khac Nho, the head of the local association of the blind, said he often borrows books to read to members of the association, whenever Huy collects a new book.

Most recently, three volumes of the Dem Hoi Long Tri novel were read by Nho in three months.

"While watching TV, we can only hear the sound, but cannot see the image. Reading books, however, helps us to visualise life pictures," Nho says, adding that he has learned many interesting things from reading Braille books regularly.

In addition to opening the library from 7:30am to 16:30pm on every Thursday and Sunday, Huy is willing to open the library outside these opening hours too, as long as there are readers willing to come.

Huy says even when he is busy having lunch, he keeps receiving guests or prepares for the family's party, and still enthusiastically opens the library if someone wishes to read books.

In addition, Huy has been an active member of the executive committee of the local elderly's association. Whenever he has free time, he helps his wife with her small shop to earn a living. All their children have stable jobs and live with their respective families.

"I feel very happy whenever there are more visitors coming to the library, and more and more people become interested in reading books. I will keep this job for as long as I am able to," he says.

"My future aim is to collect as many as 10,000 books," Huy says hopefully. — VNS

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