NECESSITY is the mother of invention, and that was what the Selangor Public Library Corporation (PPAS) had to do to continue encouraging the people of Selangor to read when the movement control order (MCO) was enforced in March.
PPAS director Mastura Muhamad said the state library decided to promote its services online and introduced a book borrowing service via e-hailing this month.
“BooksFly2U, launched by Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari on July 16, is our latest service,” she said.
“Members just need to call or send a WhatsApp message to borrow their preferred titles and have the books delivered to their address via e-hailing.
“They can also use our online public access catalogue to search for the titles available.”
Mastura said the e-hailing delivery fee will be based on the distance between the user’s address and nearest PPAS district, branch or village library.
For example, a person staying in Selayang can arrange for book delivery from the Gombak District Library, as delivery from PPAS’ headquarters in Section 13, Shah Alam, would be costly.
“Each member can borrow up to 10 titles for three weeks and return the books to the PPAS library nearest to them.
“For now, we allow them to borrow any books within the library except reference books,” said Mastura, adding that Books Fly2U was an extension of the UPustaka service and done in collaboration with several delivery service providers.
Mastura said PPAS manages and supervises 103 libraries throughout Selangor, including eight mobile units. The PPAS headquarters is formally known as Pustaka Raja Tun Uda.
Membership is free, although fees are imposed for selected services and facilities such as computers, meetings and seminar rooms, gym and parking.
Membership is open to Malaysian citizens of all ages, regardless of whether they are a resident or non-resident of Selangor.
“We want to make the library accessible to all, from ordinary citizens to the elite,” said Mastura.
“So when the MCO was implemented and people couldn’t go out for non-essential services, we adapted by promoting our online services through our website and social media platforms.
“PPAS has an existing e-book service called Overdrive, which is a digital library offering some 960 titles in five languages and caters to age groups ranging from children to adults.”
PPAS also collaborated with University Book Store (UBS) for an online platform offering digital reading materials by renowned publishers, such as Britannica Library’s encyclopedia, National Geographic’s magazine archives, Press Reader’s online newspaper database and Scholastic’s online literacy resources offering e-books, video storybooks and interactive games.
“Subscription to this platform would have cost RM1.4mil per year. But UBS offered the platform for free throughout MCO and it remains free for now,” said Mastura.
In addition, Nusantara Audiobooks features a collection of audiobooks from the Siri Pencerahan Selangor series and selected famous literary works that can be downloaded for free.
She added that PPAS’ online services recorded a 95% increase during the first four months of the MCO.
“There were 1,361,642 users between March and June this year, compared to 694,768 users during the same period last year,” said Mastura.
“The number of people that used PPAS’ online services for the first half of this year has nearly reached the same number for the whole of 2019. We recorded 2,071,529 users between January and June 2020, compared to 2,264,614 between January and December 2019.”
She observed that during the MCO period, children’s books and exam reference materials were popular among children while adults favoured Press Reader.
There are plans for a PPAS Online Store, an e-commerce platform where users can buy products from PPAS such as books, merchandise and gifts.
The online shopping platform, targeted to launch by the end this year, is part of PPAS’ efforts to adapt to technology and meet demand.
“Pustaka Raja Tun Uda was established at its present location upon the request of Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, who believed that having a library would help the people of Selangor read and gain greater knowledge, thus improving their lives and the state,” said Mastura.
“The Sultan also believed that having a public library filled with books and knowledge would benefit the people, rather than the then state government’s plan to build a monument to commemorate the ‘Selangor Maju’ declaration in 2005.“Inspired by the Sultan’s wisdom, we also embarked on our own rebranding journey in 2009.”
She said the rebranding includes upgrading and improving its facilities and infrastructure to create
a comfortable, conducive and beautiful environment, having a book collection that is interesting, up-to-date and of good quality, incorporating programmes that are creative, relevant and effective as well as improving their staff’s service quality.
“I tell my staff to treat customers as if they were their own family members and to buy books that would interest themselves and their family members,” said Mastura.
“We want to make libraries relevant and significant to people’s lives. Today’s library serves as a second home, a learning and human development centre, a meeting point and even recreational centre.
“One challenge is to encourage children to visit libraries with their parents, so we try to offer activities that encourage parent-child bonding and teach good values.”
She added that PPAS district, branch and village libraries were upgraded to offer a safe and conducive place for children to hang out.
Though PPAS has reopened during the recovery MCO and plans to continue its online services, Mastura said members can still seek recommendations from PPAS librarians for its book delivery service.
“The PPAS headquarters recorded over 991,500 visitors per year at its peak in 2017,” she said.
“The figure decreased to about 971,000 in 2018 and 961,000 in 2019, but we expect an even bigger drop this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“But PPAS will still continue its services to add value to people’s lives and help society improve.”
For the Books Fly 2 U service, call 03-5519 7667 or WhatsApp 010-849 1448.
For details on other services and membership registration, visit www.ppas.gov.my
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