​This Vietnamese student built two free libraries in Hanoi

This Vietnamese student built two free libraries in Hanoi
Hoang Quy Binh at his free library. Photo: Ha Thanh / Tuoi Tre

A college student in Hanoi has built two free libraries in the heart of the Vietnamese capital as part of his personal mission to promote a stronger reading culture in the local community.

Hoang Quy Binh, a 24-year-old student at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, has such a strong passion for literature that he has dedicated the past three years to building D Free Book, a free library which provides access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

Binh originally set up D Free Book in his small apartment, but has had to relocate his growing book collection on four separate occasions since its introduction.

He has now settled the main ‘branch’ of his library in a room at his university, located at 67 Le Thanh Nghi in the capital’s Hai Ba Trung District.

After three years in operations the 400 book collection he started with numbers well into the thousands.

Expansion and spreading influence on local readers

Binh opened his second D Free Book location in 2018 at 2 Vien May Alley on Pham Van Dong Street in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District where more than 6,000 books from a wide variety of genres, from science fiction to business management, await eager readers.

Each location opens from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm daily and is staffed by a group of volunteers who are on hand to help the few dozen visitors who visit each day.

The libraries’ patrons are able to borrow books free of charge at return them at their own convenience.

Visitors to the libraries range across the spectrum.

On any given day, students from Hanoi’s outskirt district of Dan Phuong who have ridden bicycles over 13 kilometers can be spotted mixing at the library with young office workers trying to relax with a good read after a busy day.

“Elderly people also visit the library to find books on poetry and other topics,” Binh told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

“It makes me happy to see the joy in people’s eyes when they spend time here.”

Hoang Quy Binh (mid) and two visitors at D Free Book. Photo: Ha Thanh / Tuoi Tre
Hoang Quy Binh (mid) and two visitors at D Free Book. Photo: Ha Thanh / Tuoi Tre

D Free Book’s official Facebook page has nearly 23,000 followers and Binh’s success has inspired a few of his friends to create similar reading spaces in other northern provinces, including Hai Duong, Thai Binh, and Bac Giang.

Binh also uses his libraries as multi-purposes spaces where volunteer teachers and fresh graduates can hold foreign language lessons.

“Although access to the library space is free, [I think] we still do our best to increase engagement,” the D Free Book founder said.

As D Free Book continues to grow, Binh is hoping to receive support and funding from the public in order to provide for the libraries’ daily operations.

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