Surviving their long journey from Cambodia, 1,105 Khmer-language books were recently unpacked at the Mark Twain Library in Long Beach, California, according to local Press-Telegram newspaper.
Frustrated in their attempts to find Khmer books in the United States, branch librarian Susan Taylor and employee Lyda Thanh – the daughter of Cambodian immigrants – paid a two-week trip to Cambodia to stock up, spending $3,500 and almost as much again to ship them back the US.
Long Beach is home the largest Cambodian population outside the Kingdom.
The new stock will more than double the library’s existing collection of Khmer-language books and its purchase was designed to help Cambodian-American children preserve their ancestral language.
Taylor and Thanh collected a variety of books ranging from traditional Cambodian children’s stories to translations of international classics like The Little Prince and Anne Frank, and instructional books on computer programs.
Taylor told the Californian paper how during her trip locals were astonished at the amount of money the two women were spending on books, and that all the materials were going to a public library where anyone could borrow them for free.