The Jakarta Post
Anhar Dana "Dajju" Putra (right) poses with three fellow members of #BarruMembaca in front of the movement’s newly created mobile library concept during the Makassar International Writers Festival at Fort Rotterdam in Makassar, South Sulawesi, on May 3 (JP/Keshie Hernitaningtyas)
With its bright yellow portable wooden racks, community-based pop-up library #BarruMembaca (Barru Reads) stood out on the green lawn of Fort Rotterdam during the Makassar International Writers Festival (MIWF) in Makassar, South Sulawesi. Young people, each holding at least one book, could been seen in front of it, lounging on the provided wooden foldable carpet and sitting cushions.
Speaking to The Jakarta Post on Thursday, #BarruMembaca initiator Anhar Dana “Dajju” Putra said the movement started in January 2016 following growing concerns of the very poor reading habits of the people of Barru regency, located around 100 kilometers from Makassar.
“We’re very concerned about research that found that teenagers in Barru only read one book per year. We created this movement as an effort to increase the number to more than just one by developing a reading culture in a fun way,” said Dajju, who just started working as a lecturer in Makassar this year.
Alongside his nine friends, all native to the province, Dajju initiated #BarruMembaca during his time as a master's student at the University of Indonesia by donating his own books to the movement and bringing them to the region’s hot spots, such as the town square, Colliq Pujie Park or Sumpang Binangae Beach, on Saturdays and Sundays.
Visitors of #BarruMembaca lounge near the mobile library. (JP/Keshie Hernitaningtyas)
“We started with around 100 books. Now, we have almost 700; most of them are donations from Barru residents who supported our cause,” said Dajju, adding that only 15 percent of them were children’s books despite the fact that most #BarruMembaca visitors were kids. “The regional administration has donated books to us, but they were textbooks; not suitable for a fun reading activity at public places.”
“Following our movement, which includes ‘book traveling’ as we visit remote villages in Barru to bring them the books and create fun activities, we discovered that the locals were not interested in reading due to a lack of access to books. They don’t have any books to read. We don’t have bookstores in Barru regency. We have a regional library but it’s not well maintained and only offers textbooks,” Dajju added.
Currently, #BarruMembaca, with the help of donations and funds raised from selling T-shirts, is hoping to introduce to the public its portable library, which debuted at the MIWF, “in case someone wants to duplicate this practical concept since there are many mobile library communities here [in Barru]."
"We would love to provide them with the blueprint," Dajju said. “But the most important thing is, we strive to make reading a fun alternative activity for the people."