Duong Lieu village’s library in Hanoi has become a frequent destination for the local children after school.
The library, which is managed by 20 volunteers who take turns, was built with donations from the villagers. It now contains 2000 books, including fiction, foreign language books, textbooks, comic books, and children’s books. 700 children have registered to become regular visitors.
Phung Ba Hung, a volunteer who works at the library, said, "Children from other villages also come to our library. They love to read but there are few libraries around here. When this library opened, they were really happy."
In addition to reading books, the children are introduced to life skills and traditional games every weekend by the library’s volunteers. Villagers say they are no longer worried because now their children have a safe place to go after school.
"It’s such a relief to know that our children have some books to read and are learning necessary social skills at the library instead of playing in dangerous places near a river or pond. I’ve noticed remarkable improvements in their manners", said local resident Phi Thi Sot.
A library set up by war veteran Bui Dinh Thang in Hanoi’s Phu Cu district is also attracting many local people. Thang said he opened the library in 1990 to nurture and develop a reading habit.
"The library publicizes government policies to the local people. It also enriches people’s knowledge and keeps them up to date on the latest developments in the world," said Thang.
Thang has been collecting books and magazines for years. His library now has 8000 books, newspapers, and magazines in which farmers can find information on farming techniques while children can find extra study materials.
Le Thi Ha, a regular visitor to Thang’s library, said, "We find a lot of useful information about farming here. We have gotten bumper crops by applying techniques we found in books."
Books are well-protected at Thang’s library by both owner and visitors. A frequent visitor Dao Phuong Thao of Doan Dao hamlet said, "We’re asked to be very quiet while reading books here. We also do our best to turn each page gently to protect the books. Mr. Thang often reminds us to read carefully to get the most of each book. We love this library because there are so many interesting books here and it’s free for everyone."
Free libraries are popping up in many rural areas across Vietnam, enriching people’s knowledge and connecting people with a wider world.