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To Bangkok Conference programme

65th IFLA Council and General

Bangkok, Thailand,
August 20 - August 28, 1999

Code Number: 106-79-E
Division Number: III
Professional Group: Open Forum: Division of Libraries Serving the General Public
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 79
Simultaneous Interpretation:   Yes

Public Library in Thailand

Kulthorn Lerdsuriyakul
Information Education Promotion Centre
Bangkok, Thailand


Public Library in the Past

"Public library" was developed from the "public reading room", which was firstly established in Bangkok in 1916 by the Education Department, in which the first three "public reading room" were organized to make use of existing facilities of the following schools : Wat Sutat Thepwararham, Sam Chean and Prayoonrawongsawas, Thonburi, in 1949, Ministry of Education had set up more public libraries to expand both quantity and quality, as well as promulgated public library regulation. Its purpose was to inculcate reading and learning habits into people's minds. Those libraries were also utilized for providing training and giving knowledge to people in terms of discussion, conversation, and excursion. At that time there were 20 public libraries in various provinces, after which it increased to 64 public libraries in 1950.

In 1952, the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, had made the policy to expand public library to district level. The Ministry of Interior provided the places in the community areas, while the Ministry of Education supported the budget for construction. In the same year, the former public library regulation was improved and repromulgated, in which the public libraries were classified into 3 categories, namely provincial public library, district public library and mobile library to give services to people both inside and outside library by circulating the books to people in the rural areas.

In 1973, the public library was upgraded to an educational unit attached to the Adult Education Division of General Education Department. It was operated to serve the following functions.

  1. To provide nonformal education services to general people.
  2. To promote people's reading and learning habits.
  3. To provide people with up-to-date information and knowledge.
  4. To promote and give advice on Knowledge to people, as well as attitudes and
  5. To promote and disseminate culture.
  6. To promote and give advice to people on spending their spare time usefully.

In 1979, the Department of Non-Formal Education was established and the public library was transferred to come under the supervision of the Provincial NFE Centre responsible to promote, support, and assist in public library's administration and personnel so that the public library could be carried out more actively and effectively according to the public library regulation 1986 issued by the Non-formal Education Department.

Later on, Non-Formal Education Department public library regulation 1992 to make public library be community information centre for promotion of community learning and activities, as well as for development of community learning network.

At present, there are altogether 850 public libraries over the country, which can be classified into 3 sizes as follows:

1. Large-sized public library

1.1 Provincial public library was firstly established in 1939 in Ubon Ratchathani, giving services to the people within the provincial areas. It also acted as the centre for circulating books and materials within the province. Later on in 1949, the government had policy to expand adult education more widely and suitably to the condition . Currently, there are 73 provincial public libraries, which are classified in the large size. Provincial public library will be set up in the municipality, which is under the responsibility of Provincial NFE Centre. Besides providing various kinds of book service, audio-visual room or nonformal education room has been organized to give service on text books and materials according to the NFE curricula, as well as providing Sukothaithammathirat Open University and Ramkhamhaeng University corners.

1.2 Rajamangalapisek Library, Klai Kangwon Palace, Prachuap Khiri Khan is the only one organized particularly within the front areas of the Palace due to the Rajamangalapisek Royal Ceremony of His Majesty the King. In the library, there are 11 rooms used for reading, organizing seminal or meeting, as well as official receptions. In addition, there are various parts set up for presenting exhibition, giving information service and being resting areas.

2. Middle-sized public library

Chalemrajgumari Public Library was established to serve Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Jakri Sirindhorn's resolution and ideas to promote people's education as she addressed in various occasions, such as in the World Assembly on Adult Education on 12 January 1990, the Princess kindly bestow statement in handwriting : "Let's join in making a literate world."

In honour of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Jakri Sirindhorn and to celebrate Her Royal Highness' 36th birthday in 1991, Chalemrajgumari Public Library was established with the Princess' permission, the name of which was kindly bestowed by the Princess, as well.

Chalermrajgumari Public Library was set up in cooperation with local people, government and private sectors. Its characteristic is the 2 storey-building comprising various rooms, for instance the rooms for royal exhibition, for local information, for audiovisual media and computer, as well as for general exhibition upstairs. Downstairs, there are the rooms for general Libraries altogether joining in the project.

3. Small-sized public library

District and sub-district public libraries are classified in this acting as the network of provincial public library to give services to people within the district areas in terms of informative and materials sources for their studies. In addition, these public libraries can help to inculcate reading habit into their minds, as well as to disseminate culture. The construction of most district libraries is partially supported by the community, who helps to donate land, money and materials and by the government budget, as well. Bang Bor District Public Library, Samut Prakan was the first one established in 1943.

In 1952, the government had a resolution to establish a district library in every district, the task of which the Ministry of Education was assigned to carry out in order to promote learning and teaching of both formal and nonformal education. At present, there are only 665 district public libraries and 35 sub-district public libraries due to the constraints of budget and personnel.

Tasks of the Current Public Library

To develop the tasks of public library, in 1995 The Department of Non-Formal Education had the policy to make all kinds of public library be learning centre giving services as follows:

Tasks of the Current Public Library

tasks diagram

1. Informal Education

Informal Education is providing the general public with educational opportunities. They can learn through resource persons, working experiences, society, surroundings, printed materials, radio, television, electronic media and from other sources through their whole lives. In addition, the learners can transfer their grades gained from informal education to formal and nonformal education.

Informal education is an educational system provided for supporting persons to learn without particular system and planning. That is learners can learn by themselves from various kinds of materials and media, as well as from other sources such as from environment, experience and local intelligence, which are the real thing in their wary of life. Informal education is provided in terms of the following :

1.1 Self-study from books and various kinds of materials.
1.2 Study from learning package CAI with knowledge evaluation service.
1.3 Education exhibitions.
1.4 Particular learning group.
1.5 Internet and computer online

2. Nonformal Education

Nonformal education is providing nonformal education activities to persons who miss the opportunity to learn in schooling system with flexible methods and response to the needs of learners of each level in various models as follows :

1.6 Provision of learning and teaching materials according to NFE curricula of all levels.
1.7 Provision of educational and vocational guidance.
1.8 Provision of activities to promote NFE students' learning
1.9 Setting up center to provide distance education programme through Thaicom satellite.

3. Local Information Centre

Local informal centre is the centre that collects various kinds of local information in various forms for giving services, for provision of learning and teaching activities, for vocational development, as well as for exchange of information among networks and for giving services to those interested.

Local information centre in public library is the form of organizing system and disseminating necessary information useful to both village level and provincial level. It puts the emphasis on the collecting community information within the areas of the public library established. That way, the public library will be able to give various forms of services to specific groups, general people, government and private sectors, as well as to businessmen. In addition , its information will be collected in terms of information technology system. At least, there will be 9 accounts of information, namely general information of community, society, politics and local administration, education, culture and local intelligence, local science and technology, agriculture, industry, as well as economy.

There are various forms of collecting data and information through the following :

1.10 Data file in the form of document and pictures classified by sub-district or types of data, such as population data, local vocational data, as well as local small enterprise data, etc.
1.11 Exhibition of history, culture, local wisdom etc.
1.12 Poster with electronic mobile letters, brochure and pamphlet, etc.
1.13 Internet or or CD-Rom, and or computer online.

Expansion of Public Library Services

  1. Public library plays an important role as a learning and service network circulating books and materials to the community learning centre in sub-districts and to the village reading centre within the service areas of public library established. All population of those areas are the target to which the services will be provided.

  2. Homepage of local information and developmental projects initiated by His Majesty the King have been made for dissemination on Internet by all provincial public libraries, "Chalermrajgumary" public libraries, including 50 district public libraries. <

  3. Mobile floating library began to provide service in January 1999 with intention to expand service to promote reading and learning of people living along the rivers and canals in terms of books, toys, videos, exhibitions and learning packages concerning reservation of water resources to make those people realize and participate in keeping their rivers and canals, as well as their environment clean. In addition, volunteers are provided for giving service by carrying the book bag to the doors for those who are inconvenient to travel from their homes to the floating library to get service.

  4. Mobile learning centre public library van will provide in form of library, as weel as learning package, video, computer, exhibition and group activities for learning focusing on current condition and problems of people such as drug, family, election, villagers' law, environmental reservation, as well as the way to perform jobs, etc. The target groups are for example population in condensed areas, the underprivileged sources and educational services.

Besides 850 public libraries under the responsibility of the department of Non-Formal Education, there are still 13 public libraries attached to the Bangkok Metropolis Administration, 30 municipal public libraries, as well as 7 public libraries of Srinakorn Bank.

Public library is considered as a significant knowledge source and learning centre for population of all sexes and ages. They will have the opportunities in studying continuously. Thus, it is seen significant to improve public library to have more efficiency and ability response to the needs of learning of all target groups so that Thai society will finally turn to be a learning society.

Future Plan of Public Library in Thailand


1. Background Information and Justification for the Project

At present more than 700 public libraries at provincial, district and local levels have already bee established by Department of Non-formal Education. The Department has also set up a policy to construct public libraries in all districts throughout the country within the 8th Education Development Plan because these public libraries are regarded as nearby learning centers for out-of-school people where they can seek knowledge from various types of learning materials in the libraries. However all activities currently carried out by our public libraries can not serve their users' needs efficiently. In order to make people keep pace with today's technological advancement, information technology, computer, multimedia from CAI package, programming computer on CD ROM, research and study at local levels and internet networks should be brought in. Besides programming computers should be utilized for service and administration systems to meet the needs of library users as well.

In attempts to develop our public libraries to have such aforementioned efficiency according to the electronic public library project, it will make them all become learning centers and learning networks at international level which are able to link with various sources of information nationwide and worldwide leading to the support in providing effective nonformal educational activities both in formal and out of schooling systems in an effective manner.

2. Objectives

  1. Develop all types of public libraries as learning centers with the standardized system of information and information technology services in terms of multimedia computerizing system and as international learning networks which are able to link and exchange educational information technology nationwide and worldwide

  2. Utilize modern technology information system to support the quality of learning and teaching development according to NFE curricula at all levels and types particularly on individual self-study and student-centered principle.

  3. Facilitate NFE students and people in remote rural areas with more educational opportunities by obtaining modern information technology learning services.

  4. Develop administration, management and monitoring systems of public library implementation by using information technology systems reporting on their progress, exchanging experiences and implementation through computer online.

3. Project Implementation

  1. Appoint a working group on electronic libraries comprising experts from outside agencies.
  2. Study on uses of computerizing systems in libraries of various agencies and educational institutions.
  3. Organize a workshop for the working group with following purposes :
      3.1 Set up DNFE's electronic library models
      3.2 Specify material, equipment and computer qualifications
      3.3 Develop computerizing programs for library management and services for library uses
      3.4 Identify curricula and methods for training library personnel to be able to work electronic libraries properly.
  4. Provide materials, equipment and media appropriate to the needs of target groups.
  5. Conduct trainings for personnel, administrators, concerned and operating staff.
  6. Carry out target libraries as planned.
  7. Set up supervision, follow-up and evaluation systems.

4. Project Methodology

  1. Development of working systems
    1. Use computer as multimedia to facilitate target groups' self-study from various types of CAI programming computer on CD ROM as well as self-testing from computer
    2. Employ computer systems I the following library commissions :
      1. Conduct catalog cards, book registration, membership registration and lending-borrowing records.
      2. Conduct self-information searching systems by developing working systems in such a way that library users are able to link with all information such as media or books in the library, network libraries as well as internet networks.
      3. Undertake information systems and information technology for library management at all levels : district, provincial, regional and department e.g. numbers of library users, memberships, resources, activities and statistics.
    3. Develop Website/HTML/CGI/Java systems for searching and recording data through computer online concerning.
      1. Local information of each library
      2. rare, meagre or expensive books
      3. NFE learning materials and packages
      4. Develop information systems by linking with network public libraries, other networks nationwide and worldwide.

  2. Provision of hardware and software.
    1. An electronic public library's equipment comprises the following :
      1. Two computers for processing data at high level and information communication
      2. One set of a network system card with installed equipment
      3. One Fax/Modem machine
      4. One ink Jet printing machine
      5. One scanner
      6. One electricity controlling and sparing machine
      7. One printing machine with speed limit not less than 300 letters per second
    2. A library's equipment comprises the following :
      1. One set of server
      2. Two UPS machines with the size not less than 1 KVA
      3. One set of 16 port-Hub network equipment
      4. One set of 12 Port-Hub network equipment
      5. One set of 32 Port-Router
      6. Seven sets of micro computer
      7. Seven sets of Card Land
      8. One Laser printing machine
      9. One Ink Jet color printing machine
      10. One scanner
      11. One CD ROM Drive
      12. Two Rack Cabinets
      13. One Rack Modem

  3. Personnel development
    1. Organize trainings for two operating personnel in each public library who must have basic skills in computerizing Dos and Windows.
    2. A seven-day training curriculum has the following contents :
      1. Policies, administration, management and implementation of electronic libraries.
      2. Fundamental knowledge on electronic library working system
      3. Fundamental knowledge on Internet
      4. Use and maintenance of equipment
      5. Construct local data base by using Netscape Navigator program
      6. Construct local data base on Internet
      7. use electronic library management program
      8. use information communication computerizing program

  4. methods of organizing library services.
    1. Disseminate target groups and library users about learning activity services held in the library through information technology systems.
    2. Coordinate with institutions and teachers to arrange service time-tables to facilitate as many learners as possible within the limitation of available resources.
    3. Organize trainings for giving direction or orientation to learners and public through information technology system.
    4. Conduct materials, documents and video-tapes as manuals and self-learning aids to facilitate learners in an efficient manner.
    5. Encourage library users to take part in identifying their needs as well as recommending proper ways of services in the library.
    6. Organize volunteer groups to assist the development of information technology for better services.

5. Target Group Services.

1 NFE students of all types, curricula and levels 2 General public 3 Formal schooling students

6. Follow-up and Evaluation

1 Establish a working group to follow up the project implementation continually by dividing areas responsible distinctively. 2 Evaluate the project by using research and evaluation instruments to study on management, administration and service systems as well as the satisfaction and efficiency of electronic media. 3 Evaluate viewpoints of administrators, library managers, library users, and concerned public.

7. Responsible Agency.

Informal Education Promotion Centre, Department of Non-Formal Education, Ministry of Education, Thailand

8. Expected Benefits

1 Students and target groups have better opportunities to learn from telecommunication and information technology. 2 Students and target groups can save time and cost for obtaining news and useful knowledge and information. 3 Information services between public libraries and other agency libraries are increased in an efficient manner. 4 Utilization of information technology are encouraged broadly.


Latest Revision: June 23, 1999 Copyright © 1995-2000
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