If you want to nurture the habit of reading in your children from a young age, look out for any library near to your area or town and enroll both yourself and your kids in the library. Instead of buying books all the time, you can just borrow the book and return them. If you want to buy books, then buy only books that you know you would treasure for years to come. The rest can be borrowed from the library.
My mom encouraged a reading habit in us from a very young age. She knew that the textbooks and revision books that we had in the school were not sufficient to improve our language vocabulary, communication and writing.
While my classmates could afford an entire collection of Nancy Drew (for the girls) and Enid Blyton series in their home, my mom really could not afford to buy us books like these. She did the next best thing… she enrolled us in a library membership.
The library is the current MBPJ library (Perpustakaan Majlis Perbandaran Petaling Jaya). But when we first enrolled, it was known as a Kelab Buku Petaling Jaya and it occupies about 2 floors of the current MBPJ building. It was like decades ago. Eventually, the library was given a building of its own and it moved to the current location which is same road as the Assunta Hospital and Hoki stadium.
The best part about this library is that it opens on Saturdays and Sundays (unless it is a public holiday or a replacement day for a public holiday). Because of this, it was easy for me to continue to visit the library on weekends when I need not go to school and later, when I need not work on weekends.
Usually when I visit the library on weekends, I would see mostly retirees, students or parents with their young kids. The library allow us to borrow a number of books- with my card I could borrow up to 6 books, OR 4 books with 2 audio visual books (like DVDs). Because of the high number of books allowed, parents would come with a highly durable recycle bags (the kind that can take heavy weight) because they would borrow books for the kids as well as for themselves.
But do take note though- with more books comes more responsibility. You are given 3 weeks to return the library books. If you forget to return the books, you would be fined 20 sen each day for each book. You may call to renew for another 3 weeks once. After that, you need to return the books on or before the due date. So if your family borrowed 20 books and you returned it only after 10 days, you would need to pay 20sen x 20 books that is RM4. While I am returning the books at the library, I often see people paying the fine because they overlooked to return the books.
The tip I want to share with you is because you can borrow so many books, you may not remember how many books you have borrowed- so the moment you exit the library, mark on your phone’s calendar reminder on the due date on how many books you have borrowed. I did it consistently after I was late and fined in returning the books.
I am grateful to this library because it enables me to continuously learn and improve my knowledge over the years. I also picked up the habit of reading and was able to improve my English tremendously. Over the years, I have always been quite an active member…. going often to the library to borrow books and reading them.
My interest and hobbies changes very often- hence each time I am able to learn more and fuel my interest through devouring books written on my subject of interest. For example, when I was into all sort of diets, I borrowed books on low sugar diets, low fat diets, Paleo diets, etc. I also got to read books on yoga, exercise, strength training and aerobic training. Then when I was into healing, I read numerous books on healing- be it conventional and alternative. I was also interested in topics on self improvement, cooking (at a brief time), crafts, photography, entrepreneurship, decluttering…. all of which I was able to expand my knowledge through books that I borrowed from the library.
There are large collection of self improvement books, books on healing, health, exercise, craft, photography and history. On one section of the first floor there are also the fiction paper backs on one side and another section on non fiction covering topics like self improvement, religion, language, economics, investment, wealth preservation, etc.
One thing though, usually the library does not carry the latest bestsellers. But they would have the evergreen books for example books by Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar or Napolean Hill.
Also, if you want to research on quick changing topics like blogging, making YouTube videos, how to make money online, web development using the latest program ie any technology topics, you may not be able to find the latest books here. If you are interested in web design, blogging and topics like these, you can still get the basic foundation knowledge by borrowing the books on WordPress for Dummies and Java knowledge. You would then need to expand through online courses or visiting blogs or watching YouTube videos.
There are sufficient seating areas on most time of the year. The air con can get a little cold so it is advisable to bring along your own shawl or jacket. Don’t come in singlets, mini skirts or shorts because the library does have a dress code- you may not be allowed in.
Most of the time I can get my own little corner like you see the lady in the picture below is seated or I get one whole table to myself. However starting from end September to mid November each year, the library would be very crowded as students who are sitting for their PMR, SPM and STPM exams. After the exams are over, it would be back to being quiet again.
Below is the magazine section located on the 2nd floor of the library. Magazines are expensive and I was able to read my favourite topics without the need to buy these magazines. My favourites are the Entrepreneur, Cleo, Her World, Shape and Woman’s Weekly- these are US versions.
On and off when the interest strikes me I also enjoy reading magazines on travel, photography, home improvement and crafts. Often it is not the latest edition – for example in February I would be reading the Christmas edition but it is okay. There are still lots of articles that I find useful and interesting to read.
Below is the DVD section located on the 3rd floor. Honestly I do not find much selection at the DVD section, maybe because I don’t really fancy watching movies anymore. They do not contain the latest DVD release but you can find evergreens like movies in the 40s (Frankenstein), Ghost, Pretty Woman, some Korean movies and Hong Kong movies. There are also a number of Malay and Tamil movies. The Malay movies are like Ali Setan and Marah Marah Sayang…. which I remember watching when I was young.
Walking further in you would find the newspaper section. The newspaper are updated of course. Usually The Star would not be available because someone else is reading it but you can try to see if you can get Straits Times or if you read in other languages, Utusan and Sin Chew is also available.
If you like reading, overall MBPJ is a wonderful place where you can sit down to do research for your favourite topics or cultivate the habit of reading in your children. Even though it has been so many years, I’ve never got tired of visiting the library because they have so much of topics that fuel my constant interest for learning.
Of course, I also buy books, especially those that I am not able to find in the library. Or that I found the book in the library, and like the book really a lot to want to purchase it. But honestly if you ask me today, I don’t read the books that I bought anymore and they are taking up space in my home. The only 2 exceptions are Your Body Speaks Your Mind by Deb Shapiro and Heal Your Life by Louise Hay which I first came to read from the library and later have gotten the copies of the books. I still refer to the books especially when I suspect there is a mind-body connection to certain illness.
I have friends that go crazy over the Big Bad Wolf sale where they would go and get trolley full of kids books and some books that catches their fancy. I am not sure, but I suspect later the books may end up becoming clutter and it is another headache to get rid of.
Well, if you do not stay in PJ, try exploring other libraries such as Perpustakaan Negara or the Shah Alam library which are also huge libraries.
MBPJ library Petaling Jaya
Lot 389, Jalan Selangor, Seksyen 3,
46050 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan
Tel : 03-7781 2775/90 Fax : 03-7 781 3729
Monday: 2am to 7pm
Tuesday to Friday: 9.30am to 7pm
Saturday: 9.30am to 5pm
Sunday: 9.30am to 5pm
Public holiday: Closed
During the fasting month (Ramadhan), the operating hours are revised. Also if you are borrowing books, go down at least 30 minutes before closing time (even though it is officially communicated as 15 minutes). This is because if you go down 15 minutes before closing, you would find many people queuing to borrow books using the self service terminal (to borrow books, it is fully self service- the counter only handles returning books unless the machines are down).