The library is synonymous with students, including those in schools and universities. However, for people who have left these institutions the library is perceived as dull and boring.
A reading hall with a "Silence Please'"sign and rows and rows of shelves laden with books and other reading materials, the library often has strict regulations, with no room for any kind of entertainment or leisure activities.
Some people prefer to pay RM10 for a cup of coffee and surf the net at cafes that provide free wireless.
LIBRARY WITH A DIFFERENCE
A visit to the Raja Tun Uda Library in (PRTU) here paints a different picture.
The six-storey building ,with a total area of 203,600 square feet, has interiors painted with bright colours, coupled with contemporary designs.
The Head (Services Division) for Selangor Public Library Corporation's (PPAS) Zone 2 District, Mohamed Fadzil Mohd Fauzi advises visitors to PRTU to do away with any negative perceptions they may have about a library.
"Observe and experience for yourselves. I am sure the you can have a different experience here, as we want to make this library your second home, in line with our slogan of 'My Second Home,'" Mohd Fadzli told Bernama here recently.
He has served with PPAS for nine years.
NO FOOTWEAR PLEASE
The library is located next to the Sultan Abdul Aziz Golf Club, a rather peaceful and serene spot.
Upon stepping into the library, one can immediately feel the "oriental touch," as it is a requirement here that all visitors and staff remove their footwear before entering the premises.
PPAS Director Mastura Muhamad said this is to maintain the culture of the East at the library, in addition to maintaining the cleanliness of the building. Each visitor is provided with a bag for their footwear.
"The library has received some 145,000 visitors in four months and we expect more to come. It would be difficult to maintain cleanliness if we allow visitors to walk in with their footwear.
"We decided on this concept as we want to have a leisure atmosphere where visitors will feel comfortable and relaxed. They can either use the chairs or sit on the carpet," she said.
There are film shows here in 3D (three dimension) and even in 6D!.
This writer had an opportunity to watch a four-minute 6D feature about a ride on a rollercoaster, and even though it was for only a few minutes, what an experience it was! Not recommended with those with heart problems.
One needs to pay RM10 to view the 6D film shows but it is worth it, as PRTU is the first library in the country to have this made-in-Canada technology.
There are eight seats in the mini-theatre . Each seat can tilt sideways and even vibrate as if being jolted by tremors. Viewers can also feel gusts of winds and heat blasts in their faces as if they are really riding a rollercoaster.
Meanwhile movie shows are also available at the 3D mini-theatre, where the charge is RM5 each for a normal movie and RM7 for a 3D movie. This theatre can accommodate 20 people.
The library also offers three gymnasiums for visitors who want to keep fit. There is one in the ground floor, one exclusively for women on the third floor, and one for men on the fourth level.
"A surau is available on each floor to announce when every prayer time starts," she said.
CONDUCIVE FOR CHILDREN
The bright colours of the walls and book shelves are exciting, particularly in the children's section.
Mastura said the library's employees are equipped with parenting skills to enable them to handle child visitors.
"We want the staff to handle the children like their own children, and we are willing to assist the parents if they have to leave their children here in order to attend to errands," she said.
The children's section has a "creative zone" where children can express their talents by acting as a newscaster. Their voices are recorded and can be heard afterwards. In a way, this can help them to boost their confidence.
There is also a storytelling stage and a space for Nintendo games.
"At the moment we have around 190,000 books but the shelves can accommodate 400,000 volumes," she said.
The library is open to the public from 10am until 6pm from Monday to Friday and 9.30am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Mastura said the library, which has a capacity of 2,500, did not expect to receive such overwhelming response from the public. There are now 6,000 visitors each day on the weekend and 3,000 visitors during each of the weekdays.
The old PRTU was located at Section 14, Shah Alam, but its new location at Jalan Kelab Golf in Section 13 is the choice of the Sultan of Selangor himself, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, who wanted the library to be located in a park.
The Sultan graced the official opening of the library recently and contributed 1,200 books that he acquired locally and abroad, covering such fields as politics, sports, history, military, music and business.
The library has been operating since July 22.
The rebranding exercise undertaken by PRTU was by no means easy, as the move required collaboration from many parties.
To ensure that all of the library's 260 staff understand what was required of them in the transformation, the old PRTU in Section 14 was closed for three days for brainstorming sessions.
New ideas were discussed and visits were held to popular public bookstores, such as the MPH and Kinokuniya. The Starbucks cafe was also visited.
"We try to apply the concept according to the needs of today's society by providing all the facilities needed. including free wireless Internet. We only charge RM1 for the use of the computer.
"This has encouraged people, particularly the young, to come here and no longer visit cyber-cafes or shopping centres to loaf. At least the situation here is under control," she said.
Mastura said the library's main objective is to assist the government in reducing social problems and crimes among the young.
According to Mastura, this can be a difficult task, but the library will continue to try making it a reality.
"Initially they may come here to see and chat with their friends and use the computers, but finally we hope they will fall in love with the books and the reading culture," she said.