Earlier this year, Phare Ponleu Selpak re-launched a mobile library program for the children in the surrounding community.
The mobile library goes out into the surrounding community every Thursday and Friday to give everyone, but especially youngsters, a chance to read new books and encounter new ideas. This program was launched in 2019 with the intention of not only making books available to the children so they can strengthen their reading ability and build knowledge but also bringing them a bit of joy. The Phare mobile library has been implemented in key Battambang provincial sites such as Andong Chech Village, Anchanh Village, Ang Village, Prey Kon Sek Village, and Kab Ko Thmey Village with around 150 people participating during each visit.
Photo credits: Juliette Deloron
Some Reflections from the (Mobile) Librarian
“I was amazed to see more community involvement than I had anticipated following the introduction of the mobile library in the surrounding area, along with excellent coordination between the Phare Ponleu Selpak and the authorities,” said VONG Soksamnang, the librarian of the mobile library. “We saw that the participation rate is up to 90% of children according to the chiefs of both Chamkar Samrong and Ochar communes which includes a total of 11 villages.”
“People in the communities, particularly children, may not only pick their favorite books through this initiative, but we also teach them how to read fluently and understand the value of books, which is an important element of a good education,” Samnang continued.
“Overall, the idea of creating the mobile library was that we wanted everyone to build the habit of reading and when you have this habit, you will feel like you don’t know enough which then makes you want to come back to the library to read and relax or feel excited every time you read your favorite books and get information from them,” said Samnang.
“This mobile library project helps people in our community have the opportunity to read even if they live far away from school or our country does not have many libraries for them,” Samnang explained. “People can participate in this activity by reading with others or by listening to stories told by our teachers.”
“Throughout the activities of our mobile library, we also do something I call ‘Mobile Library STEM’ because I use STEM lessons to apply the arts into this program,” said Samnang “We bring a sculpture and teach the kids how to prepare the clay for making a good sculpture, which is also one way to study through the arts.”
Arts Integration with the Mobile Library Project
In addition to the reading and arts lessons, the team from Phare Ponleu Selpak also provides the children with a short theatrical performance by students from our Performing Arts School. This short dramatic performance teaches children in the villages to love books and educates them on the benefits of doing these exciting activities rather than playing with a phone or gambling.
As a side benefit, the mobile library initiative provides an excellent opportunity for these performing arts students to hone their talent by engaging the children in theatre and clowning, boosting their confidence; and fostering discussions about important social topics.
“No matter how challenging it is, whether it is a tiny or huge activity, this mobile library needs to carry on into the future,” said Nekru PRANG Nhary, the Education Manager at Phare Ponleu Selpak. “It always works to use this kind of community outreach. On the other hand, art activities like circus, dance, classical music, and painting are incorporated into the library activities, which draw the interest of kids and parents and prevent them from becoming bored when they take part.”
A Bit about the Mobile Library Vehicle
We would like to thank Nomura Group for their generous sponsorship of the brand-new rickshaw that transports the mobile library to these remote villages. Their sponsorship plays an important role in making this social support activity possible.
Also, thank you to the teachers of the Phare Visual and Applied Arts School for helping with the attractive and creative design of the mobile library vehicle.
And a final special thanks to Education Manager, Teacher PRANG Nhary, Teacher UCH Sreyriem, Teacher KONG Kunthea, Teacher VONG Soksamnang, and the cooperation of the local authorities for making this education program run successfully.