Truong Hao and frequent visitors at his home library. (Photo courtesy of The Trung)
 
Thua Thien Hue (VNS/VNA) - Children of Quang Phu commune in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue can enjoy a library facility at the home of a local elderly farmer, who loves reading and poetry.

Tran Thi Kim Xuyen, a 6th grader at the local Dang Huu Pho Secondary School, said she was able to read every day thanks to the books she borrowed from farmer Truong Hao’s library. Like Xuyen, many other children in the commune experienced a similar joy through Hao’s bookshelves.

“He has many books that I like to read and he allows me to take them home for a long time,” Xuyen said, adding that her school library did not have the books she found at Hao’s home.

The 71-year-old has books of different genres – from scientific books to comics and reference books on gardening. He has a room in his house where he has displayed the books and maintained a pleasant ambience for children to sit and read.

Hao said he started this "home library" in 2014. “The idea to lend books to kids in my neighborhood came when a friend in HCM City gave me a bundle of books that year,” Hao said.

“Actually, the kids and adults in the commune have had very little opportunity to read books."

The elderly man later knocked on the doors of his acquaintances to get more books, before he formed his own village library with almost 500 books.

After three years, the volunteer librarian has several frequent visitors. However, he does not know too much about them or where they live, except for their faces and names.

Hao has a notebook in which he records the names of the borrowers and the books they borrow in his own writing. To him, every child who loves reading is a blessing and he is not overly concerned about the books getting lost.

“Books will help them develop a good personality. They would then become good people. I am not concerned about books getting lost."

However, Hao does have a plan to upgrade the management of his books, since if one child keeps a book for too long, it means another misses out on an opportunity to read it.

He will start requesting the names and home phone numbers of parents, so that they can remind their children to return the books on time.

This means the job will consume more of Hao’s time, who is also busy with family matters. His youngest son suffers from a critical kidney ailment and Hao needs to take him every morning for treatment. He also assists his wife in cultivation work for the rest of the day.

Hao continues to work at his old age in the paddy fields and vegetable plots, which are the main source of income for his family. Despite the family’s tough economic conditions, Hao is determined to continue the free "home library" at his house.

“Books provide knowledge in different fields that school education does not include,” he said.

Hao feels reading books also helps in developing the capacity for poetry, as he has experienced himself. The elderly farmer is well-known in the commune for his poetry, especially for the poems he has written for Uncle Ho.

Hoang Cu, who teaches literature at Dang Huu Pho School, said his students have attained good knowledge thanks to the books borrowed from Hao’s library.

Hao said the children were fond of his library since they could visit it any time of the day. The children particularly preferred to visit after school or during weekends.

The farmer librarian is, meanwhile, working with the province’s General Library to get more books and is busy making more bookshelves.

His efforts not only benefit children, but also the whole community, as other farmers come to borrow books on gardening, husbandry and cultivation techniques.

Moreover, Hao’s library has helped in inculcating the reading habit, which has diminished due to the development of electronic devices.-VNA