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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Library app wins award for enabling access to Khmer books online

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Designed by Aide et Action, the Khmer Library app has more than 38,000 users. Photo supplied

Khmer Library app wins award for enabling access to Khmer books online

The award winning Khmer Library app for Android and iOS allows users to read books in Khmer online. This is somewhat of a revolution in that not only are Khmer books being digitized – a first – but through the initial offering, they are free. This digital library app can be adapted for use for other languages too.

Aide et Action (AEA) Cambodia, a French organisation that started working in Cambodia in 2003, decided to develop the app as a way to improve access to educational resources in Khmer linked to its other work in the education sector. The results speak for themselves, and the app is also cost effective.

Launched in 2013, more than 38,000 people are actively using the Khmer Library, helped along by increasing numbers of smartphone users in Cambodia. As technology becomes more accessible to ordinary Cambodians, an estimated 1 million users will be reached within 3 years. It also aims to become the premier reference for Khmer readers as well as the most popular educational channel nationwide.

Khmer Library users like the app. Its quality has been acknowledged with a rating of 4.45/5 on Playstore. The Khmer Library won best performance in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications Cambodia Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Awards 2015. This has been hailed as a recognition of the early success of the Khmer Library and a sign of greater things to come.

New opportunities to learn and thrive
The Khmer Library currently offers free access to 700 e-books, and more are added each day. It provides content usable in both online and offline capacities. Meanwhile, its ‘share’ option promotes an interactive experience where users can easily recommend content to one another with the tap of a screen.

Reading and literacy are key drivers for improving people’s skills and knowledge and provide life-long opportunities. In Cambodia, poor literacy and numeracy levels are holding back the social capital of millions of its people. Khmer Library seeks to offer a means to change this, as part of the vanguard state and non-state actors striving to develop a knowledge-based society by raising the standards and quality of reading and learning materials across the Kingdom. Khmer Library will nurture a new reading culture through the use of ICT and develop positive reading habits for lifelong learners.

Expansion and growth
The Khmer Library is the first in a suite of apps geared to providing greater access and learning opportunities to Cambodians. AEA has also developed Khmer LEARN, a multimedia resource continually updated to ensure educational materials are available for everyone in a single location into the future.

In some ways, although Khmer Library and Khmer LEARN have been developed specifically for Cambodia, they are also catalysts. The technology will be extended in other ASEAN countries in the coming years. AEA will clone the app in different local languages. In 2015, the Lao Library and Vietnamese Library will be launched. Teaching elements will be introduced and made available to schools on a low-cost, fee for service basis.

The prospect of further transforming the Library to include an e-bookstore is another possibility under consideration. AEA aims for the entire platform to be self-sustaining. Including encouraging writers, the Khmer Library will help to generate income for content producers. Sustainability will also be pursued through private sector partnerships.

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