(Nay Pyi Taw, 2 February 2014) The Asia Foundation and the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation today released the first-ever national survey of Myanmar’s public libraries in conjunction with the opening of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations Library Development Forum 2014 in the nation’s capital with the theme “Libraries for Society.”
The Myanmar Library Survey provides a comprehensive picture of the country’s library network and community information needs. While much can be done to improve infrastructure and better support libraries’ role as information hubs, the general populace view them as highly valued institutions that positively impact community life. Libraries’ high standing in communities and vast network throughout the country suggest that they have the potential to be significant catalysts for community development.
There are 55,755 registered public libraries in Myanmar, but only 4,868 are considered active. Prior to this study, very little was known about these libraries.
In conducting this study, researchers visited 206 public libraries – the majority of which were in rural areas – in 13 of Myanmar’s 15 states and regions and conducted more than a thousand interviews with librarians, local authorities, and library users and non-users. The Ministry of Information’s Information and Public Relations Department provides many libraries with funding, but the support is very modest and all libraries must rely on additional sources of support from philanthropists and communities to sustain their operations. Libraries are staffed primarily by volunteers, underscoring the commitment of communities to support them.
Read the very detailed Asia Foundation press release and download the report here.