A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Libraries have a central role in ensuring everyone has access to resources, information and knowledge they need, particularly those groups in society who will otherwise be disadvantaged, including people who are less affluent, illiterate, disabled and ethnic minorities. In fulfilling this role, National Library of Malaysia’s (NLM) mission is to ensure equitable opportunities and benefits for all citizens to enjoy library services and knowledge. NLM assumes a very important role to develop culturally advanced individuals with a love for knowledge, acquired through lifelong learning. As stipulated in the National Library Act 1972, NLM has been established with the objective among others, to facilitate nation-wide access to library resources available within the country and abroad. In this context, public libraries, as the local gateway to knowledge, provide the basic condition for lifelong learning and the economic and cultural development of individuals and social groups. Public libraries are also the living force for education, culture and information, UNESCO encourages national and local governments to support and actively develop public libraries as they are centers of learning and a vehicle for social restructuring and economic vitality in the community. According to International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Standard for developing countries, one static library needs to be build for every 3,000 population. In the survey conducted by NLM in 2010, indicates that 97% respondents in the rural areas love to read. This indicate that NLM needs to build more rural libraries as there are still 170 districts in Malaysia that do not have any rural libraries. However, rural library development in Malaysia before the year 2005 was the responsibility of the State Government and not the National Library of Malaysia. There was a slow growth in public library development in Malaysia whereby there were only 614 rural libraries built to cater for a population of 27 million people of which 8.5 million people were in the rural areas making it a ratio of 1 rural library to 13,800 rural populations. This resulted in a low reading literacy rate of two books being read each year by Malaysians and low library usage due to geographical barriers and accessibility. In view of the importance of knowledge as an important resource for the restructuring and national social economic development, the knowledge and digital divide need to be addressed through building more rural libraries. Rural libraries play an important role as an agent of social restructuring and can be extended to become economic development partners in providing impetus to promote upward income mobility. One of the important roles that libraries can assume is promoting lifelong learning and bridging the digital divide. Libraries have evolved from mainly playing their traditional roles of being a repository of books. Today, rural libraries in Malaysia have gone beyond their traditional and limited role to provide services such as formal and informal learning, especially accessibility to information either in physical form or through the internet, offering a platform to enable the people and the ‘hard to reach groups’ to engage in lifelong learning and enterprise development whereby through the ICT facilities of the rural libraries, local communities can start up enterprises and even market their produce.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
In 2005, the Government of Malaysia shows its commitment in enhancing the quality of life of the rural areas by allocating an operating budget of Ringgit Malaysia (RM) 30 million (USD 10 million) to built 200 units of rural libraries in Malaysia in order to bridge the knowledge and digital divide among the rural communities in Malaysia and also to strengthen the library infrastructure and facilities. NLM was entrusted with the responsiblity of implementing the project throughout Malaysia within twelve months. This was the first time that such an allocation was given to the National Library of Malaysia to build rural libraries.The critical suucees factor for the implementation of this project was the identification and location of 200 unused suitable buildings in the rural areas throughout the country in order to renovate them as libraries within a twelve months period. In this context, a rural library is defined as a library built in the village or a settlement where the population is less than 10,000 people. NLM through its rural library’s vision, mission and objectives have solved the problem of bridging the knowledge and digital divide of the rural communities.The vision of the rural library is to act as an agent of restructuring for social development and as a catalyst for the inculturation of the reading habits among Malaysians. The missions of the rural library are : (a) To provide easy access to information for the community (b) To ensure equal access to library resources and services by the community (c) To encourage local community particiapation in the reading programmes conducted. The objectives of providing rural libraries are as follows: (a) To provide free library services and information resources in different subject matters and formats to support lifelong learning. (b) To provide and give access to various information resources to all categories of people for self development and to improve the social and economic status of the people. (c) To benefit the local community and to encourage the reading culture as well as to narrow the knowledge and digital divide among the community. (d) To encourage dissemination of information to the community. (e) To act as a center for the community to meet and to hold social activities in order to strengthen solidarity among the community. (f) To support the cultural development of the community. The rural communities include the poor, illiterate, ethnic minorities for all age groups.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
NLM is responsible to provide all state, public and rural libraries with ICT infrastructure. In order to bridge the knowledge and digital divide in the rural areas, NLM leverage on the National Broadband Initiative Plan where internet access would be make available in all rural areas in Malaysia. Malaysia target by 2020, the whole of Malaysia including rural areas would have internet access. As at 2013, 79% of the rural libraries have already been provided with internet access under the Universal Service Provision (USP). This is made possible with the collaboration and smart partnership with telecommunication corporation to provide internet access to rural areas. By 2015, National Library of Malaysia target that all state, public and rural libraries have internet facilities in order to make information accessible at anytime, anywhere and by anyone.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Development of Rural Library in Malaysia Implementation Plan 6th Malaysia Plan ( 1991-1995) The development of rural libraries in Malaysia started under the 6th Malaysia Plan. To date, 1,114 rural libraries have been built in Malaysia of which 614 rural libraries were built under the development budget (6th Malaysia Plan to 8th Malaysia Plan) that was managed by the State Public Library and 475 rural libraries was built under the federal government special operating budget. The milestones of the implementation are as follows: Year 2005 In 2005, RM30 million (USD 10 million) was allocated by the government to built 200 rural libraries under the federal government special operating budget. The building of the 200 rural libraries only involved renovating unused public buildings in the outskirt of the city and was equipped with reading materials, furniture and computer facilities. Year 2006 In 2006, RM 85 million (USD 28 million) was allocated to continue with this special project where another 225 rural libraries was successfully built. Due to the difficulties in finding unused public buildings to be converted into rural libraries, the government agreed that new rural libraries will be built on land allocated by the state government. Year 2007 In 2007, RM 35 million (USD 10.5 million) was allocated to built 50 more units of rural library through the Cabinet Minister Memorandum entitled “ Continuation of Rural Library Projects under the Ministry of Culture, Art and Heritage” that was endorsed by the Cabinet Minister on 20 June 2007. Year 2010- 2013 From 2005 till 2010, a total of 475 units of rural libraries was successfully built in Malaysia. From 2010 till to date, an additional of 31 units of rural libraries were built under the management of NLM making the total number of rural libraries in Malaysia to 506 units using the federal government allocation. The additonal 31 units of rural libraries was built from the savings of the allocation from the federal government, donation from Member of Parliament and the taking over of 19 units of rural libraries from the Perlis State Library which is a branch of the NLM. 10th Malaysia Plan (2010-2015) The government through NLM always ensure that information is always accessible to the rural communities in its efforts to bridge the knowledge divide and to upgrade the social economy of the people. Continous efforts are being made to ennsure that each Parlimentary Constituency has at least one (1) rural library to serve the local community. Under the 10th Malaysia Plan, ten (10) locations have been approved by the Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister Department to built additonal rural libraries that will involve RM 4.28 million. The locations were chosen based on the Guidelines for the Management of Rural Libraries in Malaysia and the states involved are Perak, Malacca, Pahang and Sarawak. 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020) For the 11th Malaysia Plan, NLM will forward the application for ten (10) more rural libraries to be built to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia and the Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister Department. Besides that, NLM will try to find other ways to pay for the cost of building rural libraries by using savings from the operating budget allocated by the federal government to the state government. NLM also continuously apply for funding from the federal government to built new rural library. Upgrading of Rural Libraries Under the Adminstration of the State Government To ensure that the library users are comfortable when using the library, NLM has planned to upgrade the quality of its library services from the aspect of management, infrastructure, building, human resource, ICT and library collection. Study on the Effectiveness of Rural Libraries Services A Study on the Effectiveness of Rural Library Services under the Management of the State Public Library is being plan to be implemented to identify any short comings from the aspect of services and management and to find ways to improve so that the services provided are on par with the services provided by the rural libraries under the Federal Government.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The implementation of the rural library development in Malaysia under the National Library of Malaysia was announced by Prime Minister in his budget speech in 2005. The National Library of Malaysia through the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia collaborated with several government ministries and agencies such as Ministry of Finance Malaysia for allocation of funding, Public Works Department for the design and construction of the rural libraries; Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia to provide Internet and Wifi access Local Authorities to provide access to utilities such as water and electricity, State Public Library assist in the planning of the rural libraries, state government for approval of land to built the rural libraries, and the local rural community and NGOs for their support and participation in the activities of the rural libaries.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The Guidelines for the Management of Rural Library in Malaysia was published by NLM in 2010 to ensure that rural libraries are managed efficiently and effectively. The guidelines contain information on human resource, library collection, library services, promotion and publicity, reading promotion activities, office equipments and utilities. There are three standards for rural library building depending on the local community population, that is, 1,500 square feet, 1,300 square feet and 1,000 square feet. Each rural library is equiped with two units of computer, one printer, one scanner, library collection, office equiptments and utilities such as water and electricity. The rural library project is funded by the Malaysian Government for the following expenditure: (a) Infrastructure: Rural Library buildings: RM200 million (USD 68 million) for 1,114 rural libraries since the 6th Malaysia Plan from the year 1991 until 2013. (b) Management and Maintenance of Rural Libraries: The average expenditure is RM42 million (USD 14 million) per year. This expenditure include emolument and allowance of human resource, collection building, promtion and publicity, water and electricity, reading promotion activities and training. The funds were not only used for infrastructure building, but also for interior design works including furniture and launching grants for rural library. Total Number of Rural Libraries in Malaysia as at October 2013 States In Malaysia Rural Libraries in Malaysia Johor 89 Kedah 96 Kelantan 37 Melaka 55 Negeri Sembilan 75 Pahang 64 Perak 78 Perlis 37 Penang 83 Selangor 71 Terengganu 90 Sabah 124 Sarawak 212 Federal Territory of Labuan 3 Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur - TOTAL 1,114

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The four concrete outputs that contributed to the success of the initiative are as follows: (a) No of rural libraries increased from 628 in 2005 to 1,114 in 2013 (b) Library collection increased from 3,852,247 in 2005 to 9,420,444 in 2013 (c) Library membership increased from 536,302 in 2005 to 1,347,405 in 2013 (d) Library visitors increased from 3,127,985 in 2005 to 6,352,686 in 2013 The increse in library collection from 3,852,247 units in 2005 to 9,420,444 units in 2013 in the rural libraries help to boost the book industry and to bridge the knowledge and digital divide. The rural population has easy accessibilty to library resouces due to free WiFi and broadband penetration provided in the rural libraries.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Monitoring the progress of the rural libraries in Malaysia is through Standard Operating Procedures drawn up by the National Library of Malaysia and implemented through the following means: (a) Monitoring by zone and states (b) Scheduled visits by officers from the National Library of Malaysia (c) Monitoring by local communities examples : Village headman or leader of local community (d) Spot checks by NLM officer on the library staff (e) Scheduled meetings with staff according to zone (f) Quarterly reports from rural libraries. In the year 2014, National Library of Malaysia intend to enhance the monitoring system of the rural libraries through ICT.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The following were the main obstacles encountered during the implementation: (a) Availability of budget for building new rural library Solution : Apply for funding from the government and used the savings from the budget allocated for building rural libraries (b) Suitable locations / sites for rural libraries Solution: Work with the State Government and Local Authorities to find suitable sites. (c) Connectivity not available due to lack of infrastructure Solution: Upgrade the infrastructure (d) Geographical barriers (remote areas). Rural libraries not accessible by roads Solution: Build roads or other mode of transport to the rural libraries (e) No electricity supply to use ICT Solution: Use generator and also apply for electricity to be supplied to the areas concerned from the relevant authorities (f) Day to day monitoring of rural libraries and the staff Solution: A software for monitoring of rural libraries and staff will be implemented in 2014. A supervisor is appointed to monitor three rural libraries in a zone. (g) Mindset of rural community in accepting change Solution: Engaged the local communities in library activities and any other related programmes

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Rural libraries have been able to make this significant contribution to a knowledge-driven economy through the provision of ICT services. In this way, they have been able – and continue to do so and narrow the digital divide and fill a broad social need to reduce disparities between ‘knowledge haves’ and ‘knowledge have-nots’. This is especially important as knowledge and human capital become increasingly central to all aspects of economic life. Higher levels of knowledge have also enabled people to improve their employability, or to start up more viable businesses. In this regard, rural libraries have high level of engagement with ‘hard to reach’ communities that are excluded from the knowledge economy. Registered Members of Rural Libraries as at December 2012 State Members No. of Rural Libraries Children Adult Total Johor 89 58,354 35,892 94,138 Kedah 88 31,182 29,002 60,184 Kelantan 34 8,487 10,079 18,566 Melaka 55 14,268 10,492 24,760 Negeri Sembilan 70 162,213 108,081 270,294 Pahang 63 9,007 17,187 26,264 Perak 70 8,903 12,656 21,559 Perlis 36 6,664 4,410 11,074 Penang 81 37,932 27,464 65,396 Selangor 67 96,442 70,295 166,717 Terengganu 82 23,989 25,865 49,854 Sabah 108 12,638 23,990 36,628 Sarawak 194 99,934 50,364 15,296 Federal Territory of Labuan 2 407 308 712 TOTAL 1,039 570,470 426,022 996,492

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
State Total Parliament Constituencies Total Parliament Constituencies with rural library Total Parliament Constituencies without rural library Johor 26 23 3 Kedah 15 13 2 Kelantan 14 11 3 Melaka 6 6 - Negeri Sembilan 8 8 - Pahang 14 12 2 Perak 24 15 9 Perlis 3 3 - Penang 13 9 4 Selangor 22 9 13 Terengganu 8 8 - Sabah 25 16 9 Sarawak 31 20 11 Labuan 1 1 - Wilayah Persekutuan 11 11 - Total 222 166 (74.8%) 56 (25.2%) Rural libraries support lifelong learning by providing information and library resources at remote areas and also to disadvantage group example the poor, iliterate, ethnic minorities and disabled. One of the role of the rural libraries is to hold scheduled reading campaign continuously according to target group. Among the activities for children include story telling, colouring activity, handicraft activity, traditional games and information literacy games. For the youth, activities such as spelling bee, motivation talk, creative writing and information literacy are held to inculcate reading habits. For the adult, My Favourite Read Programme, religious activity, cooking and sewing activities as well as information literacy are conducted as part of lifelong learning and as a centre for community activities. These activities are held four (4) times a month or 48 activities per rural library per year. These activities involved NGO, local community, private sector and government agency. One of the unique service provided by rural libraries is “door to door” service. Books and magazines are delivered to their houses, schools, community centres for those who are not able to visit the rural library during the opening hours. This service has increased the accessibility of information and in turn improve their quality of life. In this context, libraries under the Ministries and government departments have adopted this concept of ‘door to door’ service to a ‘desk to desk’ concept where librarians bring the books to the staff at their office for them to read and borrow. In this way, staff who are not able to go to the library will have this valued added service where books are being brought to them to be read. This will inculcate reading habits among government servants. In the international era, the rural library model in Malaysia has been benchmarked by countires such as Bangladesh and Vietnam. The Internet services provided by the rural libraries will be used as a model for Vietnam to provide internet services to the rural libraries .

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The rural library has transformed library service from physical to digital services where information is available and accessible to anyone, anytime and anywhere irrespective of age, gender, ethnic and social status. Federal government, state government and local authority must collaborate to ensure that rural libraries will continue to play an important role in restructuring the social life of the people in the rural areas. However, in order for rural libraries to keep abreast with the technological advances, infrastructure and ICT facilities need to be upgraded and goverment must continue to provide funding to sustain the project.

Contact Information

Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   RASLIN ABU BAKAR
Title:   DATO’  
Telephone/ Fax:   603-26871700 / 26871901 / 26871764
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   232, JALAN TUN RAZAK,
Postal Code:   50572
State/Province:   KUALA LUMPUR

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