BANGKOK — A three-story library opened its doors in Bangkok’s old town Friday with tens of thousands of books and a lending service expected to launch in three weeks.
At the Bangkok City Library on Ratchadamnoen Road, Thais and foreigners alike can peruse more than 41,000 volumes. When the lending service launches April 28, it will only be available to Thai nationals.
“Come on and check it out,” said Gov. Aswin Kwanmuang, who presided over the opening. “Your brains will become filled with knowledge! The library is for everyone, not just students.”
Located at the Kok Wua Intersection near the Democracy Monument, Bangkok City Library spans 4,880sqm, making it the largest of the capital’s 36 public libraries. It’s also the only to have a section of Braille and audio books.
Skylights flow in natural light from the roof all the way to the first floor, where one can find books on travel, health, food, as well as magazines and CDs. Tourists can pick up English-language handbooks for free from the Tourist Information desk. There’s also a modest selection of Braille and audio books, along with computers to listen to them on and read e-books.
A small, five-row theater, a soon-to-be-finished cafe and an exhibition space is also found on the first floor, where photos by Chanmi Thipmanee on the construction of the library are being exhibited. Framed quotes of Rama IX’s words in both Thai and English can be found in gold frames throughout the library.
The mezzanine is the children’s zone, where kids can read books in both Thai and English and take a break from reading in a playroom.
The second floor contains books on recreation, fiction and Asean in both Thai and English, as well as books in Chinese, Arabic, French and Japanese donated from various embassies and private study rooms that you can book for use.
Visitors can find what they like and then pore over them while lounging on a sofa.
One-year library cards for Thai nationals will be available for 10 baht for those over 15, with a 40 baht deposit. Children under 15 can become members for 5 baht and a deposit of 20 baht. Two books per member can be checked out during a week, and the late fee for returning books is 1 baht per book, per day. Books can be renewed for another week if no one has reserved them.
For non-Thai nationals, just present a passport at the information desk and be welcome to flip through some books in the air-conditioned chill for no cost.
The library is seeking donations.
“We have a budget of 6 million baht to buy books, so we are asking for publishers to donate books that aren’t in print anymore to us,” said Kanjana Gongphet of the Ministry of Sports and Tourism. “Embassies have also donated various books about their country, while the public largely donates novels.”
The cost to renovate the library, formerly a Commerce Ministry building, was 200 million baht, Kanjana said.
Almost the entirety of the third floor is given over to Rama IX, where one can find exhibitions on His Majesty’s works, biographies, children’s books and other tomes about the monarchy. There’s also an incomplete section of Bangkok district handbooks – those wondering what there is to do in Bang Khun Thian will be in luck.
The Bangkok City Library will be open every day except Monday and holidays. Normal hours are 8am to 9pm, Tuesday through Saturday, and 9am to 8pm on Sunday. Either take the Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat to the western end, or get a ride from MRT Hua Lamphong.