Trading the Himalayas for mountains of books
comparison, Park City has roughly 7,500 people and the local library has a collection of 52,000 books. At Bimal Memorial, books are shelved alphabetically by title and divided up into fiction and non-fiction sections. "I still have to go through the Dewey Decimal System," he said of his training.
Tillson noted this was an ambitious effort.
"It’s probably six hours of master’s degree work if you want to become a cataloger," she said.
Technology is limited at Bimal Memorial. At present they don’t have any computers available for patron use, but Rai envisions having something similar to an Internet caf in the future.
He is planning to ask the different computer manufacturers in Nepal for donations.
"I have a computer at home, maybe I can give that to the library," he joked.
One of his priorities is to encourage young people to come to Bimal Memorial. Tillson said she and Rai share the common goal of wanting to instill a love of lifelong learning in people.
Tillson said if young children become library patrons they are likely to continue going as adults.
A challenge at Bimal Memorial is that many young people want to read books written in English and much of their collection has books written in Nepali, the native language.
Bimal memorial has a staff of three people, two of them are volunteers. The owner, Purna Gurung, works tirelessly at the library.
"Mr. Gurung is always at the library. He works from morning to evening," Rai said.
The library is named for Gurung’s 19-year-old son who died in a 1992 bus accident. According to Rai, Bimal was a poet whose writings were good enough to compete at a national level and he became renowned.
Gurung opened the library in October 1992, six months after his son died. They now hold a poetry contest every year, over 250 people competed in the most recent one.
Gurung also sits on the library board with Rai, and nine other people who all work for the wellbeing of the Bimal Memorial Library.
"We discuss on different matters. Some of them want to increase membership, some of them want to go to the Ministries of Education to get grants."
Rai’s term on the board will be over soon, but he plans to remain active with the library, including continuing his work with the sister library program.
As part of the sister library program the Park City Library has sent books that it no longer needs to Bimal Memorial.
"We send them books that have been donated to us that we were not going to add to our collection," Tillson said.
As time goes by, they are getting more efficient with shipping. The first round of books took nearly six months to arrive. Rai surmises they were hung up at a warehouse in Calcutta. Now the shipments take 15 days or less.
Bimal Memorial has reciprocated by sending books and other items to the Park City Library. These things have been on display at the library.
Rai would like to make documentary films about the Nepalese people available at Park City Library so Parkites can learn more about his culture.
He said he is grateful to Park City residents for all of their book donations.
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