5 Most Interesting Libraries and Bookstores in Malaysia
There’s just something mysterious when you pick up a good book (or ebook); time flies by, and you just can’t seem to put the book (or phone, or tablet) down. What’s going to happen next? Will the main character survive the next challenge? Great story writing makes you think about these kinds of questions as you enjoy reading the stories to the end. Having said that, the next thing to enhance your reading experience would be a library, but not just any library would do: interesting libraries and bookstores would provide a captivating environment where you can just sit down and get into your reading material. How interesting can libraries and bookstores be, you might ask. Here are five of the most interesting libraries and bookstores in Malaysia which we hope would change your mind about reading in one of them!
Penang Digital Library—George Town, Penang
Penang Digital Library is unique among all libraries and bookstores in that you won’t be able to find a single book in it. Thanks to the marvels of digitisation, all of the resources of the library are up in the cloud—the digital cloud, that is. What this means is that instead of reaching out to grab hold of a physical book and flipping its pages, one needs only to connect to their free wifi to gain free access to their ebook repository. At the moment, the physical Penang Digital Library remains closed to public access, but for a fee of RM60 per year, you would be given a premium membership that would provide you remote access to their online library.
Raja Tun Uda Library—Shah Alam, Selangor
Picture a library with some of the most modern architectures and facilities situated next to a lush green park with a large lake that provides a serene atmosphere. It is a library that exists in Shah Alam called the Raja Tun Uda Library, named after Raja Tun Uda bin Raja Muhammad, the first Governor of Penang appointed on 31 August 1957, Merdeka Day. This huge library is six floors high with a multitude of modern multimedia facilities such as a 3D theatre and multi-sensory 6D theatre, Virtual Reality (VR) powered by Xbox Kinect and HTC Vive, and iStep interactive games that use sensor technology. Kids can also relax by reading under the large “Reading Tree” in the middle of the children’s section. As you visit, you might notice that the floors have particular themes to them, such as oceans and outer space. While membership in this library is free to all Malaysians, there are separate charges for their non-book facilities, including a gymnasium.
Sarawak State Library—Kuching, Sarawak
Another library that’s located beside a large lake is the Sarawak State Library. While they may not be as advanced as the Raja Tun Uda Library, they nevertheless have several services such as the Children’s Infotheque which offers space and books for children below the age of 12, a dedicated Special Needs Room to enable children and adults with special needs to use information resources accompanied by monitoring and support from caring and competent staff, and a MakerSpace where some of the most exciting activities take place, including learning how to design and create objects using 3D printers, allowing kids to learn robot programming via mBot, and many other classes that are free to all members of the library! Membership is free for all, and Malaysians use MyKad as the membership card.
You’ve probably heard of BookXcess because of their numerous locations throughout Malaysia, many of them having something quite unique to them. Almost all of their twelve outlets (thus far) have their own unique architecture or shelving that make each of them Instagrammable on their own. Here’s a partial list of the three most interesting BookXcess bookstores:
BookXcess Sunsuria Forum—Setia Alam, Selangor
Imagine being surrounded on all sides by a vortex of books. This is just the entrance of BookXcess Sunsuria Forum. A two-storey cylindrical bookshelf greets you at the ground floor of Sunsuria Forum, but that’s not all as it also leads down to the basement that is filled with more books for your browsing pleasure.
BookXcess Kong Heng Ipoh—Ipoh, Perak
Without the books, this place looks absolutely nothing like a library or bookstore at all. That’s because BookXcess Kong Heng Ipoh was once one of the busiest banks in Ipoh, so even while the safety boxes and bare concrete brick “shelves” are all in a drab grey, the atmosphere is unique enough that you will never be bored by its decor. Plus, they have a special section of the bookstore called “Yasmin at Kong Heng” which is dedicated to the late Yasmin Ahmad, which contains frames from her beloved Petronas advertisements as well as her films.
BookXcess Gurney Paragon—George Town, Penang
If you’re looking for Southeast Asia’s tallest and longest bookshelf, look no further because it’s in BookXcess Gurney Paragon. It’s three storeys tall and extends through twelve lots along Gurney Paragon Mall, turning the entire corridor into one massive browsing and reading area.
Powder Room by BookXcess—Kuala Lumpur
Quite recently, BookXcess did it again by introducing something really unique, and this time it is the first bookstore in Malaysia that is solely for women and feature specially curated titles by women for women. Yes, if you are a man, you would be barred from entering Powder Room by BookXcess. No Xceptions.
So there you have it, these are some of the most interesting libraries and bookstores in Malaysia that we would recommend you to visit (unless you’re a man, in which case you can’t visit Powder Room)! Know of other interesting libraries and bookstores in Malaysia? Let us know in the comments!
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