National Library of Thailand
“The National Library of Thailand was created in 1905 as part of a merge of three pre-existing libraries. Materials were spread all over the country and the King of Thailand felt that a National Library was an important and dignified institution”(National Library of Thailand, 2009).
A variety of materials were collected and relocated in the new National Library of Thailand. The National Library is currently operated by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. The National library has six departments: reference services, audio-visual material, Library resource development, ancient languages, library information centre, library specialist group, and administration.
Thailand is a country embedded with tradition, but recently has become a newly industrialized country. This is very apparent as The National Library of Thailand has an eclectic mix of contemporary and traditional features. It is common to see computer terminals next to a card index system. Thailand has relied on a rote system of education instead of a student-based methodology. Also education is compulsory until grade 9, but is available until grade12. Over the years, the National Library has played a large role in the development of education. “The education reform is a slow process and as a result an eclectic system is present within the Library”(Silakorn, 2004).
The national language is Thai, but with the increase in tourism over the last 30 years Basic English is spoken among most Thai people. “The majority of books and periodicals are in Thai, but other languages available are English, Chinese, and Korean. The national Library is equipped with OPAC terminals throughout that can be viewed in both English and Thai”(Limskul, 2008). Data search rooms are available with computer terminals and internet access. Games, online chat, and USB devices are not allowed. Although you are able to search for books, thesis, and journals online, the collection is rather limited. Their library catalog page shows 80,000 people have visited the site since January 2008 and their currently monthly viewers are 4,000. The library materials include periodicals, magazines, maps, photographs, ancient history, religion, social science, and science texts. The Library currently does not have any electronic materials available. The majority of materials are in print and related to Thai culture.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with a constitution that was written in 1997. The King is still praised, but no longer runs the government. Although the constitution grants free speech, the country still has a lese majeste law. This law states that if you insult the Royal Family, you can receive a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. This can be enforced on print or electronic material. Over 2,000 websites have been shut down by the government. “Recently an Australian author was released from jail after his book, Verismlitude, insulted the King”(2009). The interesting thing is that the book is currently available in the National Library, under the English Fiction section.
Questions to Consider
The National Library of Thailand’s vision statement is “A landmark for students, researchers, and general users to consult when they need additional knowledge and information.”
Is the National Library of Thailand able following their Vision statement?
Also are they servicing the needs of their patrons and how?
Even though the country has a strong tradition of censorship, do you feel that the National Library of Thailand would welcome the ALA Library Bill of rights and honor them on a daily basis?.
AP (2009). Writer Jailed for Alleged Thai Monarchy Insult Retrieved 10/14/2009, 2009, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28729720/
Limskul, O. (2008). Country Report. Paper presented at the 35th Conference of Directors of National Libraries.
National Library of Thailand (2009). Retrieved 10/14/2009, 2009, from http://www.nlt.go.th/en_about.htm
Silakorn, P. (2004, 2005). News from the National Library of Thailand. CDNLAO Newsletter Retrieved 10/14/2009, 2009, from http://www.ndl.go.jp/en/cdnlao/newsletter/050/505.html