More Library Boats
Indonesia is the largest archipelago and the fourth populous country in the world, consisting of five main islands namely Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua. It has a total of 17,508 islands, among which 6,000 are inhabited. It stretches 5,150 km between the Australian and Asian continental mainland, and divides the Pacific and Indian Oceans at the Equator.
According to a 2016 study conducted by Central Connecticut State University in the US, Indonesia is the second-least literate nation in the world in a list of 61 measurable countries, only higher than Botswana. Anyhow UNESCO statistics (as of 2016) show that Indonesian youths rate is at 99.67% and adults at 95.22% in literacy.
The figures show that although illiteracy rate is lowers, reading habits are not well nurtured among many Indonesians. Reading habits are critical to the success of individuals and nations in the knowledge-based economics. Societies that don't practice literate behavior are often undernourished in mind and body, repressive of human rights and dignity. While the government tries to reform the national education regime that doesn’t fully enable students and teachers to read in order to seek knowledge and to broaden minds, many elements in Indonesian society join forces to develop reading habits and literate behaviors. One of them is Pustaka Bergerak.
Pustaka Bergerak (meaning: Mobile Library in Motion) is a network of civil society voluntarily works to build the local communities' power and self-reliance in spreading quality reading materials, especially in areas where transportation infrastructures are still underdeveloped. Isolated society, be it geographically or socially, is put in the first priority.
Pustaka Bergerak works with a guiding principle that every normal child inherits an interest in knowledge even if they can't read yet. All human are basically intelligent, hence Homo sapiens. The natural evolution makes human brain capable of processing complex information and always craves for knowledge as a mean for ensuring survivability and making their life better in the changing world. All we need to do is to actively work out the capability to process and the instinct to survive with sufficient supply of good reads and fun games. Therefore, a certain kind of library network must be build and makes its way to visit the less fortunate community, especially the children, and not idly wait to be visited. Library is actually a verb before it becomes a noun.
The local volunteers who are also the owners and managers of the moving libraries scattered across the archipelago come from various walk of life: horse-grooms, farmers, sailors, manual workers, street vendors, pedicab drivers, journalist who left permanent jobs to develop mobile library networks, painters who choose to return to their villages to develop their homeland, retired soldiers and police officers, housewives, etc.
Libraries do serve as the bedrock of civil society, and mobile libraries are the best instruments to weave social fabric and solidarity among atomised, polarised and unequaled societies.
Let's build more mobile libraries. For an archipelagic nation like Indonesia, library-boat is very important. So far Pustaka Bergerak has developed three library-boats based on different part of Indonesia. We need more to cover the vast archipelago.
Since all of Pustaka Bergerak's library nodes involve the locals, Pustaka Bergerak revitalises some of their otherwise extinct local culture, like traditional wooden boat making.