RELATIONSHIP WITH READERS: Librarian Trần Phạm Yến Nhi introduces a book in a video posted on the Bình Dương Library Facebook page. Photo coutersy of Bình Dương Library
By Nguyễn Bình
Local libraries across the country are trying their best to help readers access online library systems so that they can continue to have new materials to read during periods of social distancing.
Like many other countries in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is still seriously impacting the daily activities of people in cities and provinces around Việt Nam.
Early last month, the Bình Dương Library in the southern province of Bình Dương had to temporarily close its doors due to the fourth pandemic outbreak.
However, after about a week after services were suspended the library found that the demand to borrow books to read at home had increased.
“We realised we needed to take measures to serve the demand of readers while ensuring safety during the pandemic,” said Nguyễn Thị Nga, head of the Bình Dương Library's Reader Service Division.
The library began promoting online services like ordering books via phone, email and messenger. The librarians select the books and then bring them to the library's guard house where they are collected by readers.
"We also make videos about books and that tell stories to post on the library fan page and website to strengthen our relationship with our readers," Nga said.
From the start of June to July, the library fan page was accessed by nearly 5,000 viewers eager to watch the library's videos.
Taking advantage of social networks to keep operating during the pandemic has been common among most local libraries.
In the southern province of Bạc Liêu, videos introducing books and telling stories have been posted everyday on the provincial library fan page.
GOING DIGITAL: Librarians from Bạc Liêu Library are recording for the online library. Photo baclieu.com.vn
To kill time during periods of social distancing many people have chosen to read books. This shows that reading culture continues to be popular, according to Lưu Thị Hồng Liễu, the Bạc Liêu Library's director.
“Since last year, we have also organised trips bringing books to students in the remote areas when COVID-19 pandemic was under control. Students had a chance to read new and diverse books outside as opposed to in the classroom."
After the government issued social-distancing requirements in the region, the Bạc Liêu Library launched an e-book programme on Facebook.
"Reading books online is a suitable and effective way to stay occupied during the pandemic. E-book is not only helpful to our readers but it also assists our staff in improving their professional skills," said Liễu.
In the future, e-book will be a part of an electronic library which will bring books to readers' homes. This will also be an opportunity for people to improve their knowledge, according to Vũ Dương Thúy Ngà, head of the ministry of culture's Library Department.
Last month, the department issued a document asking localities to ensure pandemic safety measures were taken by all sections of the library system.
A large number of readers are not yet strictly complying with the Ministry of Health’s 5K message namely wearing masks, frequent disinfection, maintaining a safe distance, refraining from large gatherings ,and making health declarations.
The department has encouraged local libraries using technology and undertaking a digital transition to continue to serve readers while ensuring COVID-19 prevention and control.
"Local libraries should promote online service," said Ngà. "It needs to prioritise older readers and children and students by bringing books to their home."
The HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities' library is doing well serving its readers. Books and documents have been sent to readers by post from the end of May when the city authorities announced social-distancing measures would be enacted according to the Government's instructions.
In a week, the library received 40 registrations from HCM City, the southern province of Kiên Giang, the Central Highlands province of Lâm Đồng and Hà Nội to borrow some 100 books.
"The library tries to provide books and documents for studying and researching and we will boost online and remote services," Bùi Thu Hằng, the library's director, said.
"The services will include searching for information on request and remote electronic document access as well as training on the online library system."
Local libraries have gone to great lengths to keep operating. They are making the most of a bad situation and have persevered to continue to provide reading materials to an increasingly coronavirus weary populace. VNS
A staff member from the library of the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities are packing books to send to readers. Photo plo.vn