On May 3, 2008, Cyclone Nargis completed its devastating sweep across the Irrawaddy delta in Myanmar (formerly called Burma), passing directly over Yangon. No natural disaster has taken so many lives or destroyed so much habitation in Myanmar.
This event resulted in 135,000 dead or missing and rendered an estimated 800,000 people homeless. Additionally, large areas of the country experienced huge infrastructure, housing and agricultural damage which will take years to repair. By any account, this was a catastrophic disaster.
Despite its poverty, Myanmar has thousands of same community libraries in addition to 150 college and university libraries. Burmese have a value for reading supported and encouraged by their history and culture. A casualty of Nargis has been over 1,000 village libraries.
In 2008, the Nargis Library Recovery (NLR) project was born out of the vision of John Badgley, retired librarian/professor from Cornell University and founder of the Institute of the Rockies, and U Thaw Kaung, founder of Burma’s library diploma program and retired Central Universities Librarian. Although NLR was initially sponsored by the Institute of the Rockies, we now have our own charitable tax status. Our partners in Yangon is Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation [MBAPF], and Ashin Dhammapiya, abbot of Ngar Pyan Thathana Yeiktha.
In November 2008, we completed our first shipment … a 20 foot container of 8,000 books donated by the University of Washington and Half Price Books were distributed to 60 libraries in Myanmar in January 2009. Drs. Thant Thaw Kaung and May Moe Nwe, directors of MBAPF, managed the sorting and distribution of books to libraries where they were most needed. Since then Thrift Books donated a million books and American President Lines donated shipping for one third of them, demonstrating our corporate support and our capacity to manage efficient logistics from book sourcing all the way into Myanmar’s community libraries.
The more ambitious phase of this project involves rebuilding & furnishing libraries destroyed by the Nargis cyclone, providing books & laptops, and help train community librarians to access world knowledge. Business owners in towns and cities often have access; training programs exist in most cities at small cost. In addition to Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation and Ashin Dhammapiya’s NGO, our project is assisted by local businesses and monasteries.
IRS Accredited Charity
Nargis Library Recovery is an IRS-accredited 501c-3 organization. This means your donations are tax deductible.