Post : July 24, 2019
Updated : August 5, 2019
A library minimally has a collection of books for reference or borrowing.
My parents and relatives had private libraries. I had access to a wealth of information. They include encyclopedias (e.g. Encyclopedia Britannica, Pears Cyclopedia), dictionaries (e.g. Oxford English Dictionary, Chambers Dictionary), compendiums (e.g. World War Two, Guinness Book of World Records, Classics Illustrated, Shakespeare, Fairy tales), general knowledge (e.g. astrology, numerology, palmistry).
Some classes at St. Paul’s High School (SPHS) had their own libraries.
When I joined Std. iV(D) of SPHS, Brother Canice assigned me as a volunteer to help the School Librarian.
During our SPHS days, Asian Foundation and Ford Foundation donated books to the school library. We could read Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry books that would complement or supplement the prescribed texts.
Brother Austin taught English and Moral classes in Std. X (A). He also served as SPHS Librarian. Every week he would take us to the School Library. We had to borrow a book and then submit a summary review.
There were several public libraries in our younger days. They include
- USIS Library
- British Council Library
- Sar Pay Beik Mun Library
- Ah Myo Thar Sar Kyee Daik
- Rangoon University Library
Universities and Colleges around the world usually maintain libraries and offer cross-loans for rare books and documents.
Rangoon University had a Central Library and libraries for the Faculties.
The Chief Librarians for Rangoon University Central Library (RUCL) include
- BBS U Khin Zaw (“K”)
He is the father of U Wint Khin Zaw (A79, Australia).
He wrote articles and translations with the pen name “K”.
He helped found Myanmar Ah Than (Burma Broadcasting Service) and served as the first Director.
- U Thein Han (Zawgyi)
He co-founded the “Khit San Sar Pay” with Saya U Wun (Minthuwun) and ICS U Sein Tin (Theikpan Maung Wa).
He is a Laureate Poet.
- U Thaw Kaung
He is the son of Sithu U Kaung (whose signature appears on the early Bank Notes of the Union of Burma).
U Thaw Kaung and Saya U Ba Than (M) were the early supporters of the HMEE (History of Myanmar Engineering Education) project.
U Thaw Kaung provided access to the library archives for Saya U Soe Paing (EE, UCC) and his team to compile an early draft for the HMEE-2012 book.
My cousin uncle U Than Lwin (Eric) was a Lecturer in Economics and an adjunct Librarian for the Social Science Library. He took me to the library where I met Daw Myint Myint Khin (Hazel, Assistant Librarian). She later became Librarian of the Rangoon Institute of Technology (RIT).
U Tun Aung (Librarian of IM(2), GBNF) was a Sunlun Yogi.
Daw May Kyi Win (Assistant Librarian at RUCL, GBNF) attended courses at UCC. She served as Librarian for the Burmese Collection at NIU (Northern Illinois University).
Before the Internet, most libraries use the Dewey Decimal System for cataloging books.
Since the distribution of the books is not uniform, some books have several decimal digits following the original three digit category.
International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is used by major publishers. A Stanford University Arts Professor wanted to use “The Illustrated History of Buddhism ” by Ashin Janakabhivamsa (Mahagandayone Sayadaw) and illustrated by Saya U Ba Kyi. Since the book did not have an ISBN, the book could not be ordered and sold through the University Book Store.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress has a large collection of books. It also has a section for books from Asian countries.
The books in the Burma Collection were cataloged using phonetic transcription of the Burmese title.
My aunt Daw Khin Khin Htwe retired as a Librarian from the Library of Congress.
Burmese Books in the US
U Win Pe (Maung Swan Yi) served as Secretary of the Burmese Curriculum and later studied Library Science. He wrote an article in Myanmar Gazette about collecting Burmese books for access via the New York libraries and the Library of Congress. One of Saya U Thaw Kaung’s sons donated several Burmese books,
YTU Library Modernization Project
During our RIT days, the RIT Library was on the Ground Floor of the Main Building. Daw Myint Myint Khin was the Librarian. U Mya was her Assistant.
The library was relocated to a two-storey building near A Hall. Due to design and maintenance problems, the library could not meet the standards for the YTU Accreditation Process.
The alumni world wide are providing help — in cash and kind — for the YTU Library Modernization Project. The “new” Library has an extra storey. The implementation has phases. It will ultimately have a Digital Library Component and probably have Archives.