Students open free library at HCMC park

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Every Sunday morning, a crowd of readers, young and old, gather around the stacks of books at Le Van Tam park to devour their favorite authors after excersises at dawn.

 

The free open-air library was started ten weeks ago by Nguyen Thi Thao and Nguyen Thu Hien, two juniors from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Economics.

 

They set up the books on the ground and on benches at the Ho Chi Minh City park at 6 a.m. and quickly have dozens of readers, both Vietnamese and foreign, sitting down to join them.

 

Dang Van Thuan, 64, from Binh Thanh District, said he and his friends were now in the habit of reading every Sunday after their morning excersises, thanks to the library.

 

"There's no place better for reading than a park ["¦] All we have to do is choose books and read them without following complicated procedures to borrow books like at libraries," Thuan said.

 

Duong Quoc Thai, a a waiter at a District 8-restaurant, said he came to the park by bus to read every week .

 

"I love books, but my salary is just enough to make ends meet. This library lends books absolutely for free, so it's very good for people like me," he said.

 

Thao and Hien said they were inspired to open the library by a TV program featuring a free public library run by a group of US students at a busy intersection and another set up by an Australian group for children in poor areas.

 

At first they asked permission to open the reading center at a park in District 10, but they were told they'd have to pay fees to do so. They then managed to wrangle and agreement from management at Le Van Tam .

 

Since the library opened, readers have donated more than 200 books to the stacks, bringing the total archive to 400 titles, the two 19-year-old girls said.

 

More than ten people have volunteered to help organize and manage the library, prompting the girls to start plannning to open the library during the week as well.

 

They also said they were interested in opening libraries at other parks too. 

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