THE Raja Tun Uda library in Shah Alam has set itself apart from the usual quiet libraries by offering various high-tech facilities and experiences while aiming to be highly interactive and engaging.
For a start, it has installed three virtual reality (VR) units that provide a different learning experience for all ages.
“We do not have age restriction on the VR unit so as long as parents give their consent, our staff will be on hand to guide young users and make sure they have a safe experience,” said Selangor Public Library Corporation (PPAS) information technology assistant officer Juliana ES Mohd Munawir.
She said that in this digital age, libraries must adapt to the fast-changing digital technology and incorporate it as part of their facility to keep up with times and engage visitors.
“If libraries remain as just a centre for books, the younger generation who have easy access to information online will not see a point in visiting libraries.
“Most people do not know that we have quite a number of interactive facilities in this library.
“Last year, we only had 483 people trying out the VR units,” she said.
Apart from the VR units which feature about six interactive games, the library is also home to a Live Sketch section for children.
This section has 10 computers that face a huge projector screen mounted on the wall.
The screen will feature either animals in a jungle or sea creatures in the ocean.
Children can use the computer screen to start colouring the animals or sketching, before projecting the animal onto the screen with just a swipe.
“Although it may just seem like a colouring game, this encourages interaction between parents and their children.
“The young ones are always excited to see their coloured animals come to life on the big screen,” she said.
Juliana wants visitors to experience things in the Raja Tun Uda library that they cannot get elsewhere and at the same time, be comfortable in the environment set up for them.
The facility features colourful furniture, bright walls and plush carpets.
Visitors are required to remove their footwear and store it in a recyclable bag provided by the library, which they can carry around with them.
“We want people to feel at home here so visitors can even sit on the floor,” Juliana said.
Given its family-friendly approach, the library does not require visitors to remain quiet in the main areas so parents can let their children explore the place without having to worry about them making noise.
“For those who prefer to have silence, they can use the higher floors,” she said.
The library also has a 3D theatre room where two family-friendly movies are screened daily from 10am to noon and 2.30pm to 4pm.
The tickets are priced at RM7.40 per person.
“The movies are mostly cartoons because we want to be as family-friendly as possible and we hope this will encourage family bonding as well,” Juliana said.
For a more thrilling experience, there is a 6D theatre, which is not for the faint-hearted.
Participants will feel like they are on a roller coaster complete with wind, vibration and other simulated effects.
Plans are under way to expand the Raja Tun Uda library, which will happen in two phases.
The first phase is now ongoing, which is the multi-storey carpark that will have 620 bays upon completion.
“Currently, there is insufficient parking.
“Visitors have to park a distance away and we provide a buggy service to ferry them to and from the library,” Juliana said, adding that she hoped more people would visit the library once the new carpark was ready.
The second phase will see three new building extensions, one to house the royal collection, another dedicated to research materials and the third a creative learning centre, which will focus on early childhood development.
“At the moment we do not have a completion date but we hope the upgrade will be finished in the next two to three years,” she said.
Also there during StarMetro’s visit to the library was Bukit Gasing assemblyman R Rajiv, who is also on the PPAS board.
“It is a shame that many do not know about this library which is well equipped with so many gadgets such as the Xbox, iMac computers, VR and other modern equipment,” he said.
Rajiv hoped more people would visit the library as entrance and membership are free.
To encourage the younger generation to visit the library, he is giving out free coupons to 250 residents in his Bukit Gasing constituency to enjoy two of the four interactive facilities there.
“Each coupon will entitle the bearer to choose two games, like the VR and 6D for example,” he said, adding that coupons could be collected at his office, No 7A Jalan 52/8, Petaling Jaya, and they would be given out on a first-come-first-served basis.
The fee for all the library’s interactive facilities is between RM7 and RM10 per session while the Xbox is 50sen per try.