If you are visiting the town of Bandung in West Java, Indonesia, with kids, you may want to visit a children’s library called Pustakalana.
But before we go deep into Pustakalana, we would like to share with you the inspiring story of its book loving founder and director, Puti Ceniza Sapphira or Chica.
Chica was born and raised in Jakarta, but she went to college and lived in Bandung for 4.5 years. When she graduated with a degree in oceanography, Chica didn’t feel passionate about the industry anymore.
So, she went back to Jakarta to work as a marketing researcher while pursuing a master’s degree in Communication Management. But living in Jakarta as an office worker also made her realise that she didn’t fit in the hustle and bustle of the capital city and being an office worker.
A few months before Chica got married, she decided to resign, moved to Bandung and became a housewife. In 2010, she and her family went to live in New Bedford, Massachusetts, US. There she found a love for the library in which she visited every week--not just one but three to four libraries!
She liked the architecture, interior, arrangement of the books and activity programmes in a library. It felt like a luxury for her to be able to borrow up to 30 (new!) books in each library with their amazing collection. So, everytime she and her family are travelling, they always make time to visit the local library.
She wishes that the good habit of visiting the library will continue to her children. She realised that literacy is important to be cultivated from an early age. The presence of a comfortable and child-friendly library with quality books and active programs will definitely support children’s interest in reading.
Chica didn’t want her children to lose their habit of visiting the library and, most importantly, access to quality books when she is back in Bandung in 2015. So, she brought a large collection of children’s books back home and started Pustakalana--revive it to be exact.
Pustakalana is a non-profit organisation that provides a children’s library, bookshop for children and adults, and a children’s space (especially for 2-6 years old).
It was first initiated back in 2005 by Chica and her college friends, aiming for primary school children. But it only ran for about a year and a half.
Years later, when Chica got back from the United States, she revived Pustakalana with a different concept and renamed it into Pustakalana Children’s Library.
The biggest challenge for her when she first started the library was handling everything on her own, with only two other assistants who list and cover the books. She thought about the concept herself, from the logo, membership programmes, books categories, etc. Later on until present, she is helped by a few volunteers.
Another challenge was to break people’s stereotype of a dusty, boring library with outdated collection. In Pustakalana, visitors will be surrounded by bright, colourful tones that invites children to come and pick up a book. There are also puzzles, and other toys.
Not only thousands of books in their collection, Pustakalana also have a few clubs and activities for the community. There is the Mothergoose Club where kids aged 12-30 months can be stimulated together with nursing rhymes; Yoga for Kids with certified instructor; and workshops with various themes.
The children who visit may only be reading for a few minutes. They would continue to spend their time playing while socializing and learn how to share with others. But building that habit of regularly reading as a daily routine is what’s important.
Chica may have started out with her children as the initial motivation. But as the library grew, she wants Pustakalana to become a child-and-family-friendly community library which will inspire other community libraries in the country to start a similar thing according to their community’s needs.
She realised that what she does is not exactly “earning money” but she believes that Pustakalana brings benefit and happiness to those who are involved in it. And, she is happy when she can do something helpful to others.
Visit Pustakalana at Selaras Guest House 2nd Floor, Taman Cibeunying Selatan Street No.45, Bandung, West Java or go to their website for more info.