Phung Ba Hung was recently named amongst the recipients of the Fulbright Master’s Program Scholarship so that he can continue to spread his love for reading in Vietnam.
Hung’s passion for reading began when he was a child.
It was not until after he graduated from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities under the Vietnam National University-Hanoi with a degree in journalism and media studies that he started sharing his passion with others through the launch of Duong Lieu.
Duong Lieu is a private library he opened in his living room designed to create a safe space for neighborhood children to lose themselves in the magic of literature.
When Hung, 33, launched Duong Lieu in 2013, the few private libraries that existed in his Hanoian neighborhood were primarily run by retired teachers, veterans, and the elderly.
While these libraries were appreciated by many, they were not particularly approachable and child-friendly.
“My knowledge of journalism and media has really helped me spread the word about my library on various social networks. I get quite a lot of attention and have been able to find opportunities to expand,” Hung said.
Aside from serving as a safe space to read, Duong Lieu is the headquarters Hung and an army of volunteers use for a range of meaningful and interesting activities including WeWatch and WeHere.
WeWatch is an educational project which uses films as a medium to teach young readers.
WeHere focuses on providing an informative interaction platform, events, and activities to help teens and young people ages 10 to 24 with their mental health.
Super Creative, another program at Duong Lieu, helps elementary and middle school students learn how to make toys and other handicrafts.
“What makes me most satisfied is that Duong Lieu Library has attracted so many enthusiastic young people to join our community projects,” Hung shared.
A local library network
In addition to Duong Lieu Library, Hung also shares his love of reading through Local Bookable, a project he launched in 2019.
Via Local Bookable, he teaches other young people how to establish private community libraries.
Three-Root Library in Dan Phuong District, Hanoi is one of several libraries having benefited from the Local Bookable project.
According to Tran Thi Ngoc Thuy, the founder of Three-Root, Hung and Local Bookable were crucial in helping solve issues related to human resources, book sourcing, book management, book codes, and other library-related issues.
“When I first met Hung, he seemed like a man of few words," Thuy recalled.
"However, after working for a long time, I saw that he was really enthusiastic about library development.
"Hung is willing to share his experience without hiding anything.
"He wants newly-established libraries to succeed so that he can continue to spread the reading culture."
Aside from collaborating with other libraries, Hung also works with local schools to implement student-centered programs.
According to Nguyen Thi Huong, general manager of Duong Lieu Middle School in Hanoi, Hung has been helpful in creating programming which helps students turn the lessons they have learned in books into real-world actions.
One of these programs includes having students read a book about the environment and then launching the 'Month of Action for a Green Duong Lieu,' which called on local families not to litter.
|Phung Ba Hung|
The pursuit of knowledge
While library science is relatively limited in Vietnam, American universities often have opportunities to focus on various sub-specialties.
While studying in the United States, Hung hopes to direct his library science studies on teenagers and children.
Traditional libraries are just places to read and borrow books, he said, adding that future libraries, however, will put more emphasis on cultural activities and varied programming.
“I want to learn more about how to turn a library into a true cultural and intellectual center for the community,” Hung said.
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