On a return visit to Cambodia, where I worked from 1993 to 1995, I was pleased
to see signs of progress in several areas of the country's development. Many difficulties
persist, of course, and some problems get worse. One thing that distressed me (in
addition to the air pollution) was finding that the National Library of Cambodia
(NLC) was closed, apparently indefinitely, because part of the ceiling had fallen
The NLC is situated in an attractive, wide street of impressive buildings near Wat
Phnom, a street that contains two international class hotels and will soon accommodate
a new US Embassy. In this setting, the NLC building (in contrast with the adjacent,
newly renovated National Archives building) stands out negatively as an eyesore,
a monument to neglect.
More significantly, it is unable to fulfill its important service role for Cambodia.
A national library should be one of a country's leading institutions, preserving
and transmitting its history and culture, and providing information resources for
students and scholars - indeed for all citizens in a modern society.
It would be heartening to find, when next I visit Phnom Penh, that some priority
had been given to renovating the fine NLC building and enabling it to provide effective
service to the Cambodian community.
- Eric Marsh, Sunshine Coast, Australia.