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Community library open to receiving unused books

Rhea Mae Soco / Khmer Times Share:
Irina Chakraborty, founder of "Bonnalai Titouy" showing the books in the community library. KT/ Chor Sokunthea

Book lovers in Phnom Penh are encouraged to donate their unused books to the soon to be launched community library at YK Art House located at Street 830 for public sharing.

The library called “Bonnalai Titouy”, a Khmer term which means ‘owl library’ is founded by Irina Chakraborty, who has been living in Cambodia for nine years.

Chakraborty who has been a member of a book club in Phnom Penh told Khmer Times that her idea of creating a community library came after her experiences of exchanging books in the club.

“You never know what you get in the book club. Then I realised, what if we have a centralised online database?” she said when telling how her idea of creating a community library started.

Book lovers need to donate at least five books to become a member of the library. Currently, Bonnalai Titouy has around 500 books in the YK Art House with another 100 e-books available for online readers at https://ykarthouse.libib.com/.

“Anyone can browse our link and click on tags to select the  categories like fiction and non-fiction stories. You will also be able to see whether the book you are looking for is available at YK or currently checked out. If you see a book on the site that’s marked as not available, you can message us and we’ll get in touch with the current borrower,” said Chakraborty, adding that members can keep the books up to three months.

She assured that all books are original as a mark of respect to the authors.

Apart from having easy access to good books including expensive new ones, Chakraborty hopes the community library will be a good place for those moving or leaving Cambodia to give away their books if they wanted to.

In the past few months, she said, many people had left the country with not knowing where to give their books away and she had gathered them. That also inspired her to start the community library.

“Many of us buy new books which can be expensive. Here, they can share with others and they can benefit from these books. Let us share as a community,” she said.

After a year of preparation, Chakraborty is now calling for volunteers to help her test the system before the official launch of the Bonnalai Titouy on February 21.

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