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Thursday November 15, 2012

Exchange programme encourages Subang Jaya residents to read

Starting young:
There are plenty of
books to choose
from and visitors
can bring their
unwanted books
for exchange. Starting young: There are plenty of books to choose from and visitors can bring their unwanted books for exchange.

A TRIP to the Subang Jaya Book Exchange Programme is like a treasure hunt expedition, for one would never know what “treasures” would be hidden among the boxes of books neatly arranged on the tables.

The Subang Jaya Book Exchange Programme is a community-based initiative run by a group of volunteers from Subang Jaya and USJ for book lovers and avid readers.

The programme promotes book-reading culture and fellowship among people who share a common interest.

The fortnightly event is held on the first and third Sunday of the month, from 3pm to 5pm, at the USJ 2 Community Hall.

Visitors are encouraged to bring a book to donate and pick from any of the available books to take home.

“It all started when somebody complained via the USJ.com forum of how expensive books were in Malaysia, and suggested that a book exchange be held,” said programme coordinator Fay Yong.

Wide variety: Some of the books spotted at the Subang Jaya Book Exchange
Programme, which features a mix of fiction and non-fiction categories. Wide variety: Some of the books spotted at the Subang Jaya Book Exchange Programme, which features a mix of fiction and non-fiction categories.

“A group of like-minded volunteers then banded together to start the first exchange in October 2009, which was held along a five-foot way of a shoplot in SS17.”

Yong, Facebook administrator known as Sulyn and a couple of other core volunteers are supported by several other volunteers to co-ordinate the tasks for the programme, such as stacking the books in boxes, placing them in and out of storage, or explaining to newcomers on the programme’s concept.

Yong recalled the early days in the then-monthly programme when there were more people donating books (than taking any); there were also days when there were zero visitors.

“There was greater awareness on the Subang Jaya Book Exchange Programme when bookstores such as Bookalicious, Borders and MPH posted announcements to help publicise the initiative,” said Sulyn.

“We moved to our present location at the end of 2010 upon recommendation by the previous councillor for Zone 3 Residents Committee (JKP) R. Rajiv, who made arrangements for us to use the premises free of charge,” said Wong.

“The USJ 2 Community Hall is more conducive as it offers protection against the weather elements and has storage space for the books.”

Wong shared that the local community has been very supportive and generous with the programme.

“People have contributed items like rubber stamps and banners as and when we need them. We also have regular supply of snacks and drinks,” she said.

“Many have referred people to the programme to donate books they don’t want. Surprisingly, people give more than they take.”

With the help of word-of-mouth recommendation and Facebook, the Subang Jaya Book Exchange Programme community has expanded to include visitors from Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam.

First-time visitor Rodney Toh said he decided to drop by the event with his family after finding out about it on Facebook.

“I brought along some books to exchange, as I have plenty more at home but not enough space,” said the Setia Alam resident, who also took some books home for his daughters Kerrie-Ann, three, and Kimberley, six.

“Secondhand book programmes and book clubs are very popular in the West, but there are not many similar activities here.

“This exchange will help encourage more people to read. It is one form of crowdsourcing and sharing books,” he said, adding that he looked forward to returning for future exchanges and spreading the word to friends and family.

Toh, who works in the publishing line, said he is open to the idea of collaborating with the programme’s volunteers and playing a part in the exchange.

Due to limited space, Sulyn said it was difficult to sort the books by categories as the books were only taken out of storage when the programme was under way.

“However, we hope that will change as we have plans to move to a more permanent location with a bigger space,” said Wong.

“We have been offered a 40ft x 20ft (12.2m x 6.1m) cabin in USJ 12 by Zone 3 JKP.

“The cabin is badly run down, so we are awaiting the JKP to get the necessary funding to renovate and refurbish the place.”

The group hopes to move into the cabin by middle next year, by which time they plan to include a children’s corner for activities and storytelling sessions.

In the meantime, Sulyn said the group is looking at having a Christmas celebration on the third Sunday of December with book-related activities and goodies for children.

The next exchange will be held this Sunday, from 3pm to 5pm.

For details and updates, look up “Subang Jaya Book Exchange Programme” on Facebook and “like” their page.

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