Sunday, December 02, 2007

British Council Library Closes

I knew earlier, but now can pass the news on: the British Council Library in KL is closing.

Sad, but yes, understandable. After a couple of years of drawing up lists of books to restock the library, I've come to realise just what an expensive service is to keep running, particularly as the number of members (and therefore the revenue from them) is small. (If your response to this is a howl of outrage, let me ask you, when was the last time you borrowed a book? I didn't borrow either as I am so bad at remembering to take books back!)

Sadder still for me is the fact that the e-library service won't be available for much longer either. I really found this useful for research purposes. But because the passwords got passed on so often to people who weren't members of the library, the service became just too expensive to be tenable.

Still, in these days of massive warehouse sales and excellent bookshops in every shopping mall, no reader should go book-hungry. And it's good that the money can be channeled into new ventures, including the active promotion of literature through other means.

But I'm sad I won't get to order my whole wish-list of books in the future.

* I can forward the list of libraries to anyone who is interested.

Postscript (22/1/08):

Did not realise at first that the closure of this library is part of a world wide phenomena, and less about our KL branch not being viable than about a change in the perception of the role of the council. Fay Weldon attacks the closures in the Independent.

30 comments:

Janet said...

Very tragic indeed! When I was growing up in Kuching, the British Council library was my only source of books. I'm not sure how relevant the KL one is to kids/teenagers here but I really feel quite heartsick about this too. Sharing your pain, Sharon.

ireneQ said...

Oh no! I used to do research there in my pre-u days in Taylor's College.

What are they going to do with the books? Any chance they might be holding a garage sale or something? (is always hopeful)

Anonymous said...

Oh no! That is sad news, although I will hang my head in shame... I registered there as a member after I came back last year, but have not returned in months to check out a book. :(


Subashini

Tunku Halim said...

Sharon, What are they going to do with all the books. Can we not buy them and start our own library?

bibliobibuli said...

i don't know whether they are selling off the books or not (will ask) but i think that in the past any sales of old books were to library members.

i'm also not sure about the other BC libraries - maybe the books are being transferred

i know that in the past BC has also donated books to other libraries

Yusuf/Martin said...

It is sad indeed that the BC Library closes.

Unfortunately not everyone had access to it, nor has access to any of the so called excellent bookshops in the big cities of Malaysia.

Here in Ipoh bookshops are few and far between, and rarely even have the latest Malaysian titles let alone those from abroad.

I have written before about how dismal the local libraries are, pointing out the lack of books and that as a non-resident of Malaysia, yet living here for a number of years non-the-less, I was not allowed to join the local library anyway.

So sorry I must disagree but access to books is very difficult if you do not live in KL, or perhaps Penang.

lil ms d said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bibliobibuli said...

I was not allowed to join the local library anyway.

*eyes boggle* so shocked.

you're absolutely right about the situation outside kl. i used to live in kuala kangsar and in those pre-internet days had to order my books from UK through the good book guide

right, what are we going to do about this??

Greenbottle said...

oh my! who's the egghead at britsh council that decided this? he/she ought to be fired!

library is not meant to make money, if so why not just sell pirated dvds on the sideline eh?

certainly there are some good people out there that can get that extra fund to MAINTAIN the library! is britain that hard up now? (why is it that that "little britain" intro is playing in my mind now...britain britain britain...

well, anyway it's done now.

bibliobibuli said...

greenbottle - are you a member?

Greenbottle said...

oops no , but always go there to read nespapers and magazines since oh many many years ago at the other place opposite the dayabumi bldg...

so i too feel MAAAAD....

bibliobibuli said...

oops no, indeed.

magazines there still will be.

animah said...

This is so sad? Would they reconsider if we managed to get, say 100 people to sign up?

Greenbottle said...

ah ms bib;

it's not for me that i'm sad... libraries shouldn't be closed even if there are only three REGISTERED members... surely british council understands that...i'd gladly become a member and borrow books here if i don't have thousands of books myself..

kids these days don't read and if they do, more likely than not they'll pick up nora f*****g roberts or runbish like that...

i thought british coucil library with you as one of those that select books will indirectly educate kids to read 'proper' books...to say that now kL people can afford to buy books and so we should close the library doesn't seem to sound right to me.

for one thing, kids generally don't buy books....

bibliobibuli said...

i am sad too, greenbottle, and i'd like to see a whole lot more libraries open.

Chet said...

I recently joined the Petaling Jaya Community Library (across the road from Assunta Hospital), more for a space to write in, than to borrow the books. It's a pretty building, with a cafe on the ground floor, but very cold, lah! Also, while they allow laptops, they have the power outlets taped up, so members have to make sure their laptops are fully charged when they go in to work there. Of course, I won't have a problem with my AlphaSmart Neo. I popped in a fresh set of batteries in early September, took it with me to China, wrote my NaNovel on it, and after all that, the battery is at around 89% strength.

*sorry for OT-ing on this thread*

gnute said...

This is so sad. My mother used to bring us kids to the British Council library all the time. I remember discovering Dickens there. It was ten times better than the newly opened National Library on Jalan TAR. Hopefully another incarnation will turn up. Btw, Sharon, you have such a dream job!

gnute said...

Chet, what's the selection like at the PJ community lib?

Lydia Teh said...

As I live in Klang, it's definitely not convenient for me to visit British Council. But I'm so glad to have attended the writing courses they organized. What a pity they're closing. I'm looking forward to the opening of the new multi-media library in Klang.

bibliobibuli said...

lydia, the writing courses will continue but now will be under arts

Anonymous said...

After plundering this country for years and years, the least they could do is leave one measly library open. My respect for our colonial masters have gone down a notch. A strongly worded letter will follow forthwith.

bibliobibuli said...

you've no doubt been supporting the library all this time, anon? or is it just the thought of it being there that makes you happy?

('scuse me am just off to do some more plundering)

Anonymous said...

What? You mean actually go there, and... and...and read?

How vulgar.

Anonymous said...

Yes how plebian. Imagine actually reading your own books.

Leon Wing said...

I'm replying only now because I have been a little under the weather for a week now. Maybe cos of the stress caused by this news? dunno. Well, I'm very, very, very, very - till June 2008 - sad about BC Lib closing. I read 4 BC books every 2 weeks, plus the ones I buy from Kino, and e-books. Without my regular 4 BC books I'll break down and suffer withdrawal symptoms!!!

Anonymous said...

animah, if you can get 100 people to sign up, I'd start a library for you :)

Funds are always available, it's a question of whether there's demand :)

Anonymous said...

Actually the library has regressed a lot. I still remember checking out Mallory's "Morte d'Arthur"... it was that good back then. Now there's not a whole lot of books, and the sense of "Britishness" (you know, as in castles, cold weather, musty tomes.. :)) has gone from it. Back then if you looked hard enough you could find some interesting stuff. Now it's all just boring. No one "writes" any more. The romance is gone. It's just another soulless cold building now.

And there were never enough seats in the new library.

bibliobibuli said...

you may not have realised it but the library concentrates on contemporary british fiction.

don't think musty

think cool Britannia!

Anonymous said...

But I like musty.

krazl said...

money vs charity...

money always win..