Kid and Foreigner Friendly Libraries in Bangkok (from BAMBI News, March 2017)

Photo source: Pixabay.com

Need to find out where in Bangkok you can borrow English-language books in a kid-friendly environment?


There was a time when English readers in Bangkok—young and old—had only the Neilson Hays Library to turn to for borrowing books. The Neilson Hays is still a wonderful place to go, but a few more options are now available, making it just a bit easier to get access to English books without having to spend a fortune at bookstores.

While this brief list focuses on English-language books, there are also other ‘foreign language’ libraries around town, such as the Alliance Francaise (afthailande.org/en/media-library/), Goethe Institute (www.goethe.de/ins/th/en/kul/bib.html), and Japan Foundation (www.jfbkk.or.th/libraryservice.php), which may also be of interest.


TK Park

Located on top of Central World (go up the escalator in the middle of Central Food Hall on the 7th floor), TK Park has a dedicated kids’ room that includes a honeycomb-like structure that kids can climb to reach books and to lounge in, as well as a play pit with toys for smaller kids. In addition to books, you can borrow games at the counter in the children’s room. For those of you who read ebooks, TK Park has an English selection on Overdrive.

Location: 8/F, Dazzle Zone, CentralWorld
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am–8pm (closed Monday)
Fees: ฿20 day-pass for non-members. Free entry with annual membership of ฿200 for Thais and residents (bring your kids’ and your passports and work permit to get the resident rate; otherwise, the rate is ฿400 for non-Thais). To borrow English books and CDs, a ฿1,000 deposit is required. Late fees will be deducted from the deposit.
Website: www.tkpark.or.th/eng/home
Tel: 02-257-4300


Photo credit: Sarah via Flickr

Neilson Hays Library

Established in 1869, the library is housed in a gorgeous “stylish European architectural house with beautiful wooden floors. There is a great atmosphere of an old library there: the smell of  books and wood and an ever relaxing quietness makes it a heaven within bustling BKK” (Alex), and it has an atmosphere that is “quiet and elegant” (Azusa).

Every Saturday morning from 10:30am, the library hosts Children’s Storytime sessions, where volunteer readers engage children with several books, usually along a specific theme, followed by related arts and crafts. Where possible, the children will be split into under- and over-five years of age. Special events for children are also held around the year, open to both members and non-members.

Location: 195 Surawong Rd., Siphraya, Bangrak
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9:30am - 5pm (closed Monday)
Fees: Family Membership ฿3,300 (or ฿5,000 for 2 years; ฿2,400 for 6 months) plus a one-off refundable deposit of ฿500; see their website for other types of memberships. Saturday Storytime is free for members; ฿100 per child for non-members.
Email: neilson.library@gmail.com
Website: neilsonhayslibrary.com
Tel: 02-233-1731


Suan Lumpini BMA Public Library

“I personally love to bring my little one to the library in the middle of Lumpini park. It stands in a small white building opposite to the pond, a few meters away from the roundabout where the philharmonic orchestra plays. It is like a hidden gem in the park where you can cool down if it gets too hot. They have a kids’ reading room down the stairs, with two kids’ plastic houses. The library has got a good range of English books including all the Dr Seuss. The books are in a very good state. Membership is ฿100 a year and you can borrow books for a week.” (Alex)

Location: Inside Lumpini Park
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 8:30am-8pm; Sunday, 9am-5pm (closed Monday)
Fees: ฿100 annual membership to borrow books.
Tel: 02-252-8030


Source: www.facebook.com/littlelibrarybkk

Little Library BKK

Perhaps one of the smallest and newest libraries in town, the Little Library officially launched in January 2017 with the aim to promote literacy and the love of reading by building a free book exchange in a central area of Bangkok, and to build a sense of community. It has been donated and managed by Richie Kai and Singto Numchok's family. All books have been donated by the community and are for the community, mainly focusing on children’s books, but with a few adult books as well.

The library has been initially stocked with a variety of good quality books that the organizers hope will interest the community. How it works? You stop by and take whatever catches your eye. You return and bring books to contribute. These books are always a gift – never for sale!

Location: K Village, in front of the playground, near the side of the parking lot
Hours: 24 hours (best during K Village’s open hours though)
Fees: Free!
Contact: littlelibrarybkk@gmail.com, www.facebook.com/littlelibrarybkk; Instagram: @littlelibrarybkk


...And now open:

Bangkok City Library

While the collection is still growing, this new library provides new facilities for library lovers and has a children's corner with some bilingual books and media on the mezzanine.

It seems that opening hours are still subject to change, so do check their FB page before setting out.

Location: Near Kok Wua Intersection on Rachadamnoen Road. No parking.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 8am-9pm; Sundays, 9am-8pm; closed Monday and public holidaysFees: Entry is free, but to borrow books you need an annual membership: ฿50 for adults and ฿25 for children. Bring a copy of your Thai ID, house registration or passport to apply for membership.Website: www.facebook.com/bangkokcitylibrary/


DID YOU KNOW THAT...if you have your membership card from a US library (and some from other countries; check wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/EBook_Lending_Libraries for a start; TK Park is also available), you can access that library’s ebook holdings via Overdrive. Go to www.overdrive.com, find your library, sign in using your library card number, and borrow ebooks to read on your browser, Kindle or epub reader!

[Originally written for and published in the March 2017 issue of BAMBI News, with inputs from Alex Z.]

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