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66th IFLA Council and General

Jerusalem, Israel, 13-18 August


Code Number: 088-175(WS)-E
Division Number: III
Professional Group: Mobile Libraries: Workshop
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 175
Simultaneous Interpretation: No

Travelling books and the spirit of Tam Boon

Mantana Charoenpaed
The Central Library
Srinakharinwirot University
Bangkok, Thailand


The spirit of TAM BOON is the meaning of joining from ones who has better opportunity to disadvantaged ones. Travelling exhibition for the Young Readers at Petchaboon Province, the northern province in Thailand on December 9, 1999 is the project which till now, the library staff can remember. We hope those books will help students meet the new world and new idea to be the good man in the future.


Travelling Books, to many, may appear to be a peculiar book mobile. It is not a library housed in a bus, nor is it moved around on four wheels. The Travelling Books is one among a number of outreach libraries fashioned to reach children in disadvantaged situations who may not, otherwise, know the joy and enlightenment books can bring to their lives.

The Travelling Books is better known by the full name," The Travelling Exhibition of Books for Young Readers . The idea for this mobile book service was brought up in a workshop organized by the UNESCO Network of Associated Libraries (UNAL) in 1989. The Central Library of Srinakharinwirot University in Bangkok was provided with seed money to get the project moving.

Schools in deprived areas, where no library room exists are the destinations of the Travelling Books. Cloth racks with rows of pockets containing books are hung from tree to tree or pole to pole or along fences. Two cloth racks contain approximately 120 titles (60 titles per rack). Children gather around the racks and choose books to read. What can he more relaxing and fun than sitting on mats under trees and surrounded by books to read leisurely by oneself or with friends. This reading session is followed by storytelling, booktalks, dramatization, drawings and reproduction of books read into miniature or big books. Throughout these sessions there are "Ahs"," Uhhoos", and giggles to be heard as the children' minds venture into new worlds. To enable the children to enjoy the books for a good length of time, the Travelling Books with the racks are donated to the school.

Annually, the University Library sets aside from its budget an amount for the Travelling Books which keeps the mobile library moving. What is especially outstanding is the spirit of Tam Boon which enhances the outreach services and increases the mileage of the Travelling Books. The essence of the spirit of "Tam Boon can be better appreciated by a description of the latest trip of the Travelling Books in December 1999 (which is typical of earlier itineraries).

The university librarians used a part of their vacation to bring the Travelling Books to a primary school in Petchaboon Province, northern part of Thailand, 500 kilometres away from Bangkok. Families and friends of the library staff learning about the Travelling Books offered to go along and assist with the activities of the project. The group of 48 persons left at 10.00 p.m. by bus and reached the school in the early cold hours of 3.00 o'clock in the morning.

The school is an old building and a comer in a classroom had shabby, out of date books not suitable for the pupils. Most of the books appeared to be withdrawals from somewhere. The school has 8 teachers and 127 students ranging in ages from 2 to 11 years old.

By 7.00 a.m. the librarians and the volunteers hastily hung the cloth racks filled with books from window to window, and gaily decorated them with balloons. The children eyes popped upon arrival to see the range of new and attractive books. The librarians conducted reading activities and presented a puppet show. The man in the group volunteered to conduct games.

For people who knew of the trip to this poor school and could not join the librarians, necessities of many kinds were thoughtfully chosen and donated. Bookshops gave books or money to buy suitable titles. T-shirt, sports equipment, clothing, blankets, pencils, erasers, toys, medicine and first - aid items were generously provided. Some of the items were used as prizes for book quizzes and other reading activities. Very, unfortunately, rubber slippers for the children were overlooked as it was observed most were bare-footed.

What will be well - remembered is the good - heartedness of an elderly aunt from the village who came on her own with a cart, charcoal stove, pan and ingredients to make "Khanom Krog" (A Thai version of the pancake, smaller in size) for the children. What a treat! Here may be seen the true spirit of "Tam Boon" as has been observed of those who volunteered their time and helping hands, and those who generously share with the needy.

To a Buddhist "Tam Boon" is one way of doing good or making merit, giving generously without expectation of return, decreasing craving and attachment.

The Travelling Books draws people looking for opportunities to " Tam Boon Likewise, the spirit of" Tam Boon enriches and bolsters the endeavours of the Travelling Books. May it be mentioned that while the Travelling Books is for the children, the teachers benefit from the demonstrations of reading services and the parents and family members get to enjoy the stories and book activities the children retell.



Phra San Sopol and Laurence C.R. Nills. Buddhistic questions and answer. Bangkok : National Identity Promotion Office, 1996.


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