Sharing is caring in terms of books

February, 22/2019 - 11:00

Book boxes along the streets of Germany and the sight of people reading while on the subways in Belgium greatly impressed Vietnamese PhD student Nguyễn Tuấn Nam during his time in Europe.

Nguyễn Tuấn Nam (left), co-founder of edtech company Blacasa and Đặng Đình Tuyên, a member of ’Sách chuyền tay’ (Books in the City) in Hà Nội at the free library based at No 5, Lane 92 Láng Hạ Street, Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Bích Hường
Viet Nam News

Bích Hường

HÀ NỘI — Book boxes along the streets of Germany and the sight of people reading while on the subways in Belgium greatly impressed Vietnamese PhD student Nguyễn Tuấn Nam during his time in Europe.

The 31-year-old explained he thought being able to take or leave books for free was a great way to share the love for reading

When he returned to Việt Nam a few months ago, Nam said he was very happy and surprised to learn there was a similar project in his country.

Nam, a co-founder of an education tech start-up company, met with members of the book sharing project ‘Sách Chuyền Tay’ (Books in the City) in Hà Nội.

Their meetings led to Nam offering the project a space to open a free library or an office where people could gather, read, borrow or give books.

Nam’s company Blacasa, which applies information technology to connect tutors with people who need tutors, was established in 2017 and now rents two floors of a building in at No 5, Lane 92 Láng Hạ Street, Đống Đa District, Hà Nội.

He decided to give the book sharing project 10 sq.m to make a small library with shelves on the walls and chairs and tables for reading.

Nam said that like Grab, Blacasa took advantage of information technology to provide better services where supply, demand and service fees are clear and transparent. In the way Grab connects drivers and passenger, Blacasa connects tutors and students.

However, in other cases, information technology and the virtual world still need physical assistance.   

The library that opened on January 20 this year at Nam’s office is an example of physical and meaningful assistance.

“It was a big surprise for us,” said Đặng Đình Tuyên, 28, a member of Sách chuyền tay in Hà Nội.

Sách chuyền tay is a well-known project in HCM City.

It started in late 2016 with a few dozen books owned by four young people in HCM City who used Facebook to connect with those who wanted to borrow books.

Gradually, more and more people learned about the project and wanted to donate and borrow books. By September, 2017, under the project, a book shelf named ‘Tín Nhiệm’ was placed at the Book Street in HCM City’s District 1.

People can use the library to read, borrow or donate books. — VNS Photo Bích Hường

Since the presence of the free bookshelf, the project has received on average 1,000 books monthly, with about 500 borrowed in the same period.

Tuyên said the project was also implemented in Hà Nội on a smaller scale, mostly relying on the project member’s donations.

“We have eight members in Hà Nội project team who are responsible for managing the books people give the project and the book borrowings,” Tuyên said, adding that each member covers the area where they live/study/work.

Tuyên said the team usually worked via the internet to check if a book was available for lending, where the book was and where and when the borrowers could get books.

“Without a fixed place, the project team usually faces difficulties in collecting and lending books,” Tuyên said, adding that team members all had their own work and volunteered for the project.

“Notably, book borrowers and book donators usually expect the project to open a public library where they could go to choose or give books instead of arriving at a private house,” Tuyên said.

Tuyên said the team did a good job collecting about 1,000 books in Hà Nội but still struggled to find a place to open such bookshelves like the one in HCM City’s Book Street.

“Nam helped us solve the problem,” Tuyên said.

A public library could help promote the image of the project among public and spread it, said Tuyên, a salesman in online transportation service company

Nam said when the library opened at his office, his employees and those working and living in the neighbourhood had more opportunities to read books and share their books with others.

He spends about 15 minutes daily visiting the library and reading, he said.

“I tell my friends about the library and the book-sharing projects, inviting them to the library and calling them to give books they have finished,” Nam said.

“The project is for the community, so the community must be a part of it, especially companies should join hands as they have funds and locations,” Nam said.

“It will be great if companies spare a small space to develop such ‘Books in the City’ libraries,” Nam said.

Nguyễn Văn Tới, a technical director of a construction company based in the same building with the library, said that he liked the library very much as it was very convenient for him to borrow and read books.

He said he usually looked for books about technology and business.

“Reading helps me relax and reduce stress,” he said. — VNS