First impression being important, they got it right. It's a nice place, and looks organised. Well, it doesn't look like a library, but much more like a bookstore in a shopping mall. The atmosphere is like being in a bookstore - but much better. It has an open cafeteria right behind the service counter, and you can borrow books (and other media) for free, up to 14 days.
It is a modern library, very much different with the one I went frequently during my younger years. There are many different section for visitors to enjoy different medium that knowledge can be enjoyed.
- Magazine Rack - like the ones in Borders in Times Square, but with much lesser spread of titles
- Audio and Video (DVD/VCD) shelves - can be viewed upstairs in tv room.
- Cafe Aras - for refreshments
- Children's Corner - much like a kindergarten setting with cool Ikea stuff (no kidding!) and lots of books
- Petronas Street Smart - now until 22nd Sept
- Adult Sections - divided into two - Fiction (on the left) and Non-Fiction (on the right)
- Games Room - I saw children playing congkak in there
- Teenager Section - with lots of interesting titles
- Reference Section - didn't get in there, yet
- Discussion Rooms - a few enclosed rooms with glasswall for discussion.
- Media Room - for viewing video
- Islamic Media Room - for viewing digital Quran
Note: the room names above is only my designation, not the official name given by the library authority.
Here's a few things I have to say about the library:
- Af first I wonder why there were discussion rooms provided. After sitting down with a book for a while, then it finally occured to me. The library is not as quiet as it is supposed to be (or used to be?). With the Petronas Street Smart in town, children playing with it can be heard on the first floor. Discussion rooms were full, and teenagers doing their discussion out in the reading area. I really couldn't believe that I was sitting with a book in a library, with all these noise. I wonder if this is the concept of a library these days. I looked around, there were no 'please be silent' reminders posted.
- The collection of books is impressive. It's close to browsing the bookshelves in a bookstore. Most of the materials are new, modern titles. You don't feel like you're transported to 10 or 20 years back in time when browsing through the book titles. For non-fiction works, titles are abound in many different subjects - religion, management, self-improvement, hobbies and craft, etc. There's also Chinese and Tamil collection, albeit very limited. And yes, they do have Michael Crichton's in Fiction section (recent titles only). Kudos to the management.
- The desks and chairs are nice - they're teak. However, comfort is compromised while giving way for appearance. I strongly feel that they could spend on quality plastic/steel chairs with cushion for better comfort.
- Everywhere in the building you could see people deeply sunk in their laptops. That's because it is equipped with wifi connection.
- For mobility in the building, there are hits and misses. There are ramps and an elevator for the disabled. If you choose to use the stairs (most would do), please be extra careful. Due to the design, the steps are varied in width along a single step. If left side is narrow, the right side is wider (and vice-versa). The center has constant width, but you have to forgo the handrail.
- Amenities are quite good. There are toilets and surau provided (at the time of writing, I haven't checked them out yet). If you fancy a drink and light snack, there's a cafe on the ground floor. In the children section, there's a baby cot provided. I'm not sure whether there's a feeding area, though.
- I like the fact that the library is not just a depository of books. Here, multimedia learning takes on its true meaning - and they are accessible to everyone.
- Opening hours are from 9am to 5.30pm (until 5pm during Ramadhan). I think it would be superb if it is open till late - say, 9pm. Closed on Mondays, and, it will be closed during 1st and 3rd Saturdays soon. Aahhh... not really convenient, eh?
We went back the following day, too. This time with the whole family. We registered with the library and got our library card each - and went back home with at least a book. Oh, and please be reminded that there's an annual registration fee.
Nuff said, I suggest you go experience the library yourself.
Johor Bahru Public Library site
article from The Star
article from NST - Johor Buzz