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Indonesians can now have greater access to books without having to go to a library. The lack of time and other difficulties should no longer be reasons for doing some library browsing.

By Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesians can now have greater access to books without having to go to a library. The lack of time and other difficulties should no longer be reasons for doing some library browsing.

Four non-governmental organizations (NGOs) jointly launched here on Thursday a library website through which people can search for a large variety of books. It even offers a “delivery service” for books they decide to check out.

“By a single click on our website, people can search for any kind of book that they want. They should not necessarily come here and there to look for books as they can order them via e-mail and we will deliver them,” a librarian said, referring the website: www.pustakabersama.net.

The delivery service is free of charge, unless visitors want to copy the ordered books.

The four NGOs involved are the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Utan Kayu Community in East Jakarta, the Aksara Foundation and the Freedom Institute.

Besides introducing the online library aimed at helping people get easier access to information, they also are using a joint catalog system, so the “virtual library” has thousands of titles.

The NGOs said they had requested the Jakarta administration’s participation in supporting and promoting the online library by providing one of its historic buildings as a “base-camp” for people to directly visit.

The building could be either the former immigration office or former National Library, which are both located in the Medan Merdeka area in Central Jakarta, they added.

A co-founder of the Aksara Foundation, Hassan Kartadjoemena, explained that the project was aimed at developing and promoting an online system connecting libraries.

“Libraries should not be hidden. They have to be accessible. Many libraries in this country are just not visited by the people, so we have to be proactive now. Such an online system is very popular in Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. So, let’s begin the system in Indonesia,” Hassan told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the launching ceremony.

“We set up this library after learning that our country has so far neglected the whole of its cultural assets, archeological sciences and architectural buildings,” he added.

The Freedom Institute, which set up the library as a research center in late 2001, has around 10,000 book titles and 60 titles on major periodicals. Many books on Islam are also available there.

The 33-year-old CSIS Library has meanwhile more than 30,000 titles of books and papers, 316 titles of foreign and local periodicals and journals as well as hundreds of thousands of news clippings.

The Aksara Library was set up in 1998 and now has 4,897 titles of books, with its main collections highlighting issues on corruption, military, bureaucracy and democracy.

The Utan Kayu Library, which was set up in 1996, has around 3,656 books on philosophy, the arts and mass media. It also provides digital text-records on various art presentations.

Reference: Google Archive