Although the only public library in Thimphu, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Public Library has enough resources, the library is in need of an infrastructure to fully utilise its resources.

Officiating librarian, Tshering Phuntsho, said the library has enough resources such as books, furniture, equipment and internet facilities but it lacks a proper place for the resources. “If we have a building we can create better room for the readers. We can provide better facilities to the readers.”

The 39-year-old library has more than 50,000 books, about 20 computers, and enough furniture such as book shelves, tables and chairs in the one-story library in Chubachu and the library at Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) premises. Between 2015 and 2018, the library bought about 22,000 books.

Tshering Phuntsho said that although library members have increased over the years, the number of participants and frequency of activities the library carries out has decreased. “The main reason for the decline is lack of space. Readers are cramped, which creates an uncomfortable environment.”

He said that the library has repeatedly submitted proposals to the thromde for years and the thromde’s response is always lack of budget. “Our proposals have to be routed through thromde, as it is our parent agency.”

It first put up a proposal to construct a new structure in 2000.

In 2015, the reading year 2015, the library had approached the government with a proposal. Although the government had rejected the proposal for a new building, it provided the library with Nu 27 million. The library used the fund to procure resources such as furniture, computers, books, stationeries and plants.

The library was provided a space at the RUB premises for three years, which ended last year.

Tshering Phuntsho said the library is looking into extending the contract period. “Although having a space at RUB has helped us a lot, it will be more comfortable to have our own independent space.”

He said that most members come in casual and this prevents members from going to the library in RUB.

Starting 2013, the library also initiated mobile library service where a bus carrying about 5,000 books goes to about five different locations in Thimphu every Sunday. The bus stops for about three hours in each location allowing people on the spot reading.

Tshering Phuntsho said the service covers two locations every Sunday. The bus can accommodate about 20 people inside.

He said that the bus also carries additional carpets incase the bus is filled. “In future, we are looking into letting people borrow books during the mobile service.”

The library has more than 4,000 members with almost 2,000 active members. About 70 percent of the members are children below class X. Juvenile fiction are the most borrowed books.

Thimphu Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said the thromde has plans to construct a five-storey building in the same location where the current one-storey library stands. “However, we have not been able to go through with the plan due to lack of budget.”

Karma Cheki