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66th IFLA Council and General

Jerusalem, Israel, 13-18 August


Code Number: 114-175(WS)-E
Division Number: III
Professional Group: Mobile Libraries: Workshop
Joint Meeting with:
Meeting Number: 175
Simultaneous Interpretation: No

Mobile library services by a library school: Chiang Mai University, Thailand

Tasana Saladyanant
Chiang Mai University
Chiang Mai, Thailand



The Mobile Library Services Project operated by the Department of Library Science, Faculty of Humanities, Chiang Mai University was begun 1980 in accordance with University policy. Having seen the university curriculum had courses on children and young adult literature and library services it was unfortunate that a lot of children and young adults in the suburb areas and rural areas lacked library services. If we could make the demand and supply for reading needs in these areas correspond then both the suppliers and the receivers would stand to gain the fruits. On one side, the lecturer and the library science students would have first hand experience with children and young adults in a real environment, while on the other hand the target groups (in this instance we aimed for the disadvantaged), would have opportunity to be acquainted with quality literature. the project hoped that their reading habits would take root.

We survey the places of the target groups by focusing on the disadvantaged kids. In the first year we decided to do our mobile library services at the King Kaew Orphan House and the Chang Kian Elementary School. The finance for the budget came from selling handicrafts made by our lecturers and students, and by donations of The Lion Society (Nakorn Pink). The Faculty of Humanities was kind enough to offer transportation.

We consider our efforts as successful in the provision of our services. Lecturers and students were excited and eager to go out and meet with children while the target groups were happy with books and various reading promotion activities. At the end of the first project after we reported to the faculty our progress, that we secured their support.



    2.1 To cultivate healthy reading habits in children and young adults by: providing them an opportunity to access quality literature appropriate to their ages, entertaining them with activities related to literature, and encouraging them to make better and beneficial use of their leisure time.

    2.2 To offer the students and faculty members experience with the reading promotion activities and children's literature in the Library Science Department



The personnel that participated in the Mobile Library Services included lecturers, a technician, and students from the Library Science Departments and from other departments. They are all unpaid volunteers.



We offered out our services to various groups, including orphans, pedodontric and orthopedic patients, the blind students, juvenile delinquents, children in rural area community centers, children in temple schools, low budget supported schools and hill-tribe schools. The age levels of the users range from pre-school to high-school, but they were mostly of elementary school age.

Table 1. Dates, places and number of users

Date Place Number
1980 - 81 King-Kaew Orphan House Fdn. 12
  Chang Kian Elementary School 360
1981 - 82 Cherng Doi Elementary School 113
1983 Suan Dok Elementary School 240
1984 Pre-school Child Center 50
1985 Northern School for the Blinds 75
  Pedodontic & Orthopedic Dept., Suan Dok Hospital 30
1986 Correctional & Training Institution 300
1987 - 89 Child Center, Umong Temple. Boy House 20
  Cherng Doi Elementary School 210
1990 - date Schools in rural areas and schools for hill-tribes @ 100-150



5.1 Team setting up: Having an idea of outreach, the team composed of lecturers and technician was set up. The meeting was held to collect ideas and gave the staff the chance to get involved.

5.2 Surveying: The staff contacted the target places, surveyed the places and users to collect data, then came back to discuss the results together.

5.3 Planning: We decided on the places to offer our mobile library services, then persuaded library science students to join, we gave them the opportunity to plan the activities under the lecturers' supervision. Following which a detailed plan was set up.

5.4 Outreach: During the first period (1980-1986) the project operated under the title: "Bringing books to Children." Each time the volunteers brought books to children, they also held activities in which the children would be involved. In this case, the target groups were children in an orphan house, primary schools, a nursery in rural area community, school for the blind, and a hospital. The books and magazines were selected to be appropriate for the children; and their coverage included information, education and entertainment.

There was a special outreach program for the blind, where the printed literature was transformed into the tape records and the school allowed to borrow it on long term basis (After the project ended some students volunteered to read into tape records for the school library.)

Delivering the books to children and placing them on the shelves is not enough; we had a vision to propagate good reading habits in children. We held various activities such as story telling, reading aloud, solving riddles; puppet show, drama (played by children), story from books, singing, paper folding, drawing and painting contest, games, filling-in proverbs and sayings, children telling their experiences, etc. The aforementioned activities were well prepared based on the children's age, interest, environment and experience.

During the reading promotion activities, usually one of the lecturers would observe and evaluate the performance. At other times and some places we let the students to report and evaluate and then come up with suggestions. At the end of each service there were group meetings held to discuss possible improvements.

The project also acquired books and magazines and gave them out to some school libraries. This was one of the purposes of second period (1987 - 1989)] during which the project title was changed to "Circulated Library for the Disadvantageous Children". Target groups included children in the child center in U-Mong Temple; Boys House (in Mae Rim Province, - receives children from poor families, orphans and vagrants) and elementary schools near the University. The emphasis in this case was more on books; books were brought to the children with fewer activities.

In the third period (1990 - to-date) the project title changed to "Circulated Library." Books were contained in book-boxes and delivered to children in the far away schools and up-hill for the hill-tribes' children through the co-operation with the Royal Highland Project under H.M. the King Patronage and the Chiang Mai Libraries Club. The Royal Highland Project has set up schools and libraries for the hill tribe people. Every month they go to visit the hill tribe's people, and the lecturer from our project brought book boxes with them. For far away schools outside the Royal Highland Project areas, the school librarians would come to the Library Science Dept. and take 1-2 book boxes with them each time. The schools have formed a network: when one school brings book-boxes they would circulate among the school groups, that is, around 5-6 schools would be engaged in the borrowing and circulating of books among themselves. The borrowing period is 1-2 semesters.



At the beginning we sought financial support from organizations, foundations, and friends. Lecturers and students made gifts and sold them for income. At this stage most assistance came from the Lion club (Nakorn Pink). Besides the money we also received books, magazines and other reading materials from bookstores in Chiang Mai. In the end we managed to have good collections appropriate to our clients.

After the end of the first year project we reported the progress to the Faculty of Humanities and set up a project for the following year. From then on we got financial support from the faculty of about US$ 350 each year until 1990. Soon afterward the budget was split to fund another project and the funds for the Mobile Library Services remain about US$ 175 per year.



The service providers, i.e. lecturers, technicians, and students have gained knowledge, understanding and skills on reading interest and promotion. We saw, know, and understand the disadvantaged people in the society in a much better way than before. The students are especially proud that they can be useful to those children, using their professional skills. The users, that is, the children and young adults who participated in the activities and use the reading materials, enjoy the services and grow up developing a robust reading habit.



8.1 Personnel: The lecturers and students have heavy workloads and tight schedules: they have teaching, duties, researching and writing papers as well as office or administrative work. Thus, it is difficult to provide time for library services that require continuity and substantial time in preparing, executing, and evaluating the activities.

Besides, there is no motivation for the lecturers to engage in library services. Though community service is one of the university's missions it is not considered and doesn't count towards a lecturer's promotion to a higher academic position and their own academic advancement. They consider professional writings, i.e. articles, researches, and texts to be the most essential work. Although students were happy and proud of their experiences, they too have a lot of course-work to do, while others did not enjoy doing the services at all. It turned out that only the ones who really love to work would do it with their whole heart.

Target users that we found difficult to reach our objectives are the female juvenile delinquents in the Correctional and Training Center. Their literacy levels were low and poor readingh habits , especially the hill tribe girls. During our services we taught them how to read and write. Usually daily schedules were set up for them to learn occupational skills and routine life skills; this eventually meant that they did not have any time for reading and writing.

8.2 Equipment and Transportation: the fact that we didn't have A.V. (audio-visual) equipment in the project posed an obstacle, so when we needed to it we had to borrow from the faculty, and it proved to be inconvenient. Also the vehicles to take us out sometimes were available, sometimes were not. It is also difficult to get the faculty's vehicle when going out on non-official work hours.

8.3 Budget: Most of the financial support comes from the official budget. It was limited by official regulations such as timing, and some expenses were out of spending allowance. The budget did not provide for the purchase of equipment.

The above limitations resulted in diminished involvement from the personnel towards reading promotion activities, but it did encourage co-operation with other organizations. In going out with The Royal Highway Project we can reach the hill tribe children in the high altitude mountains. Co-operation with the Chiang Mai Library Club which has a lot of school members, makes it possible to deposit our book-boxes with them to the far away disadvantaged children.



Near and far, low and high there still are a lot of children who lack good books. Co-operation makes a small organization with limitations be able to reach its goal in running mobile library services. Through this we can bring seeds of healthy reading habits to those disadvantaged children. God willing those seeds will grow up like beanstalks that enable Jack to climb up to the land of information, knowledge and entertainment and may lead them to good, truth, and beauty in their lives as Erasmus said: "Your library Is your heaven."



"Community Service Project "Bringing Books to Children." 1980 - 81."

"An Evaluation of the Reading Service to the 1985 - "Disadvantageous Children": Report Papers 1993."

A List of Community Services during 1983 - 1994 by The Library Science Department, Chiang Mai University.

Project Paper on "Circulated Library to the Disadvantageous Children" 1988 - 89.

Project Papers on "Reading Service to the Disadvantageous Children" 1985 - 86.

"A Report on the "Reading Promotion for Children Project" 1980 - 85."

Reports of the "Community Service Project Committee Meetings." 1984 - 85.

Statistical Report on the "Circulated Library" 1997.


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