People with disabilities help spread reading habit by opening free libraries

April 24, 2023 - 08:01

Reading in Thái Bình Province has become more accessible in recent years thanks to private and free libraries run by people with disabilities.


Đỗ Hà Cừ in his 'Hope' library. — VNA/VNS Photo Thu Hoài


THÁI BÌNH — Reading in the northern province of Thái Bình has become more accessible in recent years thanks to private and free libraries run by people with disabilities.

The libraries also contribute to improving knowledge and education in the community.

According to statistics by the Thái Bình Culture, Sport and Tourism, in the past 10 years, there have been many free private libraries in the province, of which, the first one was An Phú Reading Space in Quỳnh Hải Commune of Quỳnh Phụ District.

Up to now, the province has 20 total private and free libraries in both urban and rural areas that are likened to the "extended arms" of the public library system to sufficiently bring books closer to local people.

Among those reading spaces, many were established by people with disabilities that become a rendezvous for book lovers and a favourite destination for students after school or during summer vacation.

Hy Vọng (Hope) Library in Trần Lãm Ward of Thái Bình City opened by Đỗ Hà Cừ is one of the famous private libraries, attracting many students and parents in the area to read and exchange books.

Cừ is disabled due to Agent Orange. The 40-year-old man has to use a wheelchair all the time and faces a lot of difficulties in daily activities.

Because of his disability, he could not go to school at the right age like his peers.

He learnt his first letters when he was 15 years old from his special teacher, which is his mother, Nguyễn Thị Kim Sơn.

The persistence and inquisitiveness of the mother and son soon bore fruit. In the very first days, he faced many difficulties to pronouncing letters. But gradually Cừ could read short stories, followed by longer stories, and he became more and more passionate about books.

It was his passion for books that formed in him the intention to set up a free library for book lovers called "Hope Reading Space" in 2015.

Currently, Cừ is the chairman of the Hope Reading Space Club, helping many people with disabilities access books through his library.

From the early days of its establishment with many difficulties, up to now, the Hope Reading Space has developed over 4,000 books with diverse genres from children's stories to popular reference books, novels, and history books.

Cừ said: “Although the reading space is small, after eight years of operation, 2,000 reading cards have been issued so far.”

“The most important thing is that the library helps me to connect with my friends in the province and from other places,” Cừ said.

“They are people regardless of normal body or disability who share the same passion for books with me. Among them, there are many students who are willing to volunteer to help me manage and expand the library,” he said.

In addition, Cừ has also helped people with disabilities to set up libraries in other localities.

A reading space called Yêu Thương (Love) in Minh Thành Village, Hà Giang Commune of Đông Hưng District run by Hoàng Thị Dịu, who has vitreous bone disease, is an example.

Dịu said: “Thanks to Cừ’s support, ‘Love’ library has had nearly 1,000 books serving the reading needs of children and rural people in Hà Giang Commune.”

“This is also a strong motivation and gives confidence to help me overcome barriers and difficulties of illness that rise up in life,” said Dịu.

Meanwhile, in Minh Quang Commune of Vũ Thư District, a private library has been established for more than 10 years.

Phạm Thị Ngát, the library owner, is also a disabled girl confined to a wheelchair but is still dedicated to her small library.

The library for her is a way to spread the love of books to young people in rural areas, gradually helping them form the habit of reading books, instead of using electronic devices too much.

Initially, the library did not have many books because Ngát bought them herself to serve the needs of readers.

Then, admiring the spirit and energy of the disabled girl who loves books, many individuals and organisations have donated books helping her expand the library to over 3,000 copies of books of all kinds suitable for many ages.

Director of Library of Thái Bình Province Lê Thị Thanh said that over the years, the private libraries established in the province have contributed to serving the reading needs of local people, especially in rural areas.

To support the free reading spaces, the provincial library asked district librarians to guide the private libraries’ owners to improve their library skills and better serve readers as well as mobilise individuals and organisations to support the facilities by donating books and funding. — VNS