Consecration: A new state of the art public library will be built in Thimphu by the end of next year by the Centre for Bhutan Studies (CBS).
The consecration ceremony of the new library took place with the Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay attending as chief guest, yesterday.
CBS President, Dasho Karma Ura, explained why the centre had chosen to construct a library rather than simply a new office building.
“Basically, nobody is short of office space, we all can fit in in humble structures but the greatest need for a young city is genuine common facilities such as theatres, parks, sports grounds, and libraries,” Dasho Karma Ura said.
“We do not have a library that would serve adequately a large population of curious citizens,” he added. “This year I thought is the most appropriate occasion for us to build common facilities of this kind which would be a kind of long lasting celebration of the 60th Birth Anniversary of the Fourth King.”
Dasho Karma Ura pointed out that this year had been declared a National Reading Year and that it will serve as a launching pad for developing a reading habit and establishment of libraries.
“Bhutanese people have the appetite for reading but this appetite has to be upheld also by good materials so it is a kind of a virtuous cycle,” he said.
Dasho Karma Ura pointed out that traditionally every village in Bhutan had a set of Kanjur which was sort of an ancient idea of a library. But that in the process of urbanization, other priorities like provision of utilities and other basis necessities had taken precedence. He said that the provision of such utilities today is being or has been met.
“We’ve achieved those things and therefore the nurturing of the readership, in a serious way is the new priority of our society,” he said. “We’re all literate but we also need to be thinkers.”
Per capita wise, facilities that catered to developing reading and innovation, like libraries is low in Bhutan, he said, and that the centre’s library would be for future generations of Bhutanese.
The library will be divided into three parts catering to the mind, sound, and body.
The mind part of the library will cater to understanding consciousness or the self by providing materials that deal with philosophy. “It’s the last border in the inquiry about our life,” Dasho Karma Ura said.
Visitors will also be able to access an audio visual part of the library and listen to sounds that are beyond the range of human hearing, such as ultra and infra sounds.
The body part of the library will provide visitors with instructions and manuals on bodily well being.
“It will be a library in an advanced sense also of how to experiment with your body’s infinite abilities through yoga, exercise, theatre, to sort of use the body as a medium of language and expression,” Dasho Karma Ura said.
There will also be a large sunlit area in the library to be used as a meeting space for citizens, the government, and to hold conferences. “Such spaces are far more productive than buildings focused on individual officials,” Dasho Karma Ura said.
One particular aspect of the library that is receiving priority is its architecture. The architecture of dzongs will be combined with not only modern features but with the objective of utilizing as much sunlight as possible by letting it in through semi-transparent roofs.
Dasho Karma Ura said that the library should be inviting enough so that it becomes the place to visit when people are looking for new ideas and need to be lifted through new experiences. “I hope it will be a place where all the curious and the stimulated future generations will converge and their paths will cross through this library of mind, body, and sound,” he said.
On whether the library would be pursuing a commercial model to sustain, Dasho Karma Ura said that at the moment, the centre was not considering a commercial aspect. “All great libraries are public facilities,” he said, adding that if people recognize the value, there would be benefactors to help sustain the service.
The CBS is looking to inaugurate the library by November 11, next year.
The Government of India is likely to fund the construction of the library through Project Tied Assistance at a cost of almost Nu 300 million.
Gyalsten K Dorji