No. 92, August 2018
The Conference of Directors of National Libraries in Asia and Oceania (CDNLAO) and the Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL) were held in Myanmar for the first time in 2018. I personally had never been to Myanmar before attending this conference. Also, I have to admit that I rarely come in contact with people or things from Myanmar during my daily routine in Tokyo, Japan. For these reasons, I was very excited to be asked to accompany the delegation from the National Diet Library to the conference, Mr. Yamaji, Director General, Acquisitions and Bibliography Department, since I was looking forward to learning a lot not just about libraries but also about the people and culture of Myanmar.
< The 26th CDNLAO venue, Mingalar Thiri Hotel and the conference >
During CDNLAO, I learned a lot about the efforts of the National Library of Myanmar and the Myanmar Library Association to respond to the desires of the people of Myanmar for more information by expanding the availability of libraries. Also, during CONSAL, many innovative ideas were introduced by local libraries from Myanmar and other countries. In this short essay, I would like to tell you about three things in both conferences that seemed to me to be strongly related to CONSAL’s theme of "Collaborate and Connect."
< The 17th CONSAL venue, Myanmar International Convention Centre 2 (MICC-2) and
Exhibition opening ceremony >
The first thing I want to mention is how impressed I was by the very proactive stance of the government of Myanmar with regard to connecting the people of Myanmar with libraries. In her opening remarks at CONSAL, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi described the strong relationship between the increased literacy rate in Myanmar and the increased number of libraries available throughout the country. This was something that was also mentioned repeatedly during branch meetings. Both present facilities and future construction plans emphasize the importance of learning commons inside libraries and universities as a means to enhance the literacy rate in Myanmar. As a result, the Myanmar government aims to make it possible for all the people in Myanmar, rural or urban, to access the benefits offered by these libraries and take full advantage of them in the near future.
< Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the opening ceremony >
< We tried local costumes! >
The second thing is the connection between regional libraries in Myanmar. Several of the presentations at CONSAL mentioned that one of the biggest challenges they face is to create greater cooperation between regional libraries, so that the strengths of each library can be shared with others, particularly with regard to professional development for personnel and the sharing of technology for preserving library materials. I remember clearly that, during CDNLAO, representatives of the National Library of Myanmar emphasized the importance of its role in creating initiatives to meet this challenge and prompting closer connections between regional libraries in Myanmar.
< The National Library of Myanmar >
< Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, the Myanmar Parliament >
The third thing is Myanmar’s enthusiastic efforts to collaborate with other nations, especially those in the ASEAN region. With all ASEAN member states participating in CONSAL and eight others in CDNLAO, hosting these two conferences was an excellent opportunity for Myanmar to reaffirm its solidarity with its neighbors. It was quite common throughout the opening ceremony, the closing ceremony, the welcome dinner, and other events to see people from ASEAN member states displaying pride in their cultures by wearing traditional attire and performing traditional dances. Collaboration between neighboring countries to enhance libraries in this region is also a significant means of sharing information about library management in each country and promoting economic cooperation in order to enrich the library materials and facilities to meet the needs of the people.
In conclusion, I would like to express my appreciation to the National Library of Myanmar, the Myanmar Library Association, and other agencies in Myanmar for organizing this event and making it such a tremendous success. After the conferences were over, we had the opportunity also to visit the Parliament, the National Library and the National Museum in Nay Pyi Taw during a cultural visit program. This has piqued my interest in visiting another National Library and the National Museum located in Yangon. So, Yangon is my next destination for traveling abroad. See you there again, guys in Myanmar!
< Twenty-lane road in front of the Parliament Building, a must-see! >
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