Forests are still dense in the area, with rivers flowing through it. The rice planted several months ago are starting to turn yellow. Birds are chirping melodiously while a breezy wind is blowing and make dry leaves spin in circles. Among the vast landscape, a small village was built. Pematang Gadung, that is how it is called. It is in that village that Taman Baca Inovator Alfred Russel Wallace was established.
Taman Baca Inovator (TBI) is the first taman baca (lit. reading park) library established in West Kalimantan. TBI Alfred Russel Wallace is a reading hub frequently visited by the local children of Malay ethnicity on the verge of the Kalimantan forest. It is a dream come true for the children. Almost every day, they come visit to read books. They are very happy with the books available in the library – many of which have interesting colors or unique shapes. “I like to come to TBI to read many books,” said Rina, one of the children, with a thick Malay accent.
Ibu Siti Apuah, who is managing the library day to day activities, is also very happy to be one of the literacy drivers in her hometown. She really feels the benefit of having the TBI library in the village, as the children are more encouraged to read than doing random activities. Ibu Siti, who was born on 17 April 1992, opens the library almost every day. Not stopping there, the volleyball enthusiast also monitors and guides the children who come to TBI library. It comes to no surprise that the children are comfortable having Ibu Siti – the wife of Bapak Kusmadi – in the library.
The growing reading culture in Pematang Gadung is improving with the presence of Taman Baca Inovator. The children are very enthusiastic and are always waiting for new books coming in. Every month on the 17th, the head office of Taman Baca Inovator always send new books. In those days, the children are looking forward to reading the books they impatiently waited for. Knowing this, we – the head office team – are very much encouraged to work better to get donations and sort the reading books for the children. We remember as we work hard that some children in the remote areas are waiting for the next book delivery that will happen because of our hard work.
Taman Baca Innovator Alfred Russel Wallace is like an oasis in the middle of a desert. It is the one little place where the children can get quality reading material especially in the frontier, outermost and least developed region – which is often referred to as 3T (terdepan, terluar, tertinggal). Reading books is a privilege, considering that their parents must work very hard just to make end meets. Having a TBI library in their area brings joy to the children who have a thirst for knowledge. Not to mention, the children are not merely reading books in the library, they are also doing other activities such as drawing, coloring, icebreaking and other outdoor activities.
To maintain sustainability, TBI is partnering with various local communities. The collaboration between TBI and local communities have positive impacts on the children’s psychological development. Meeting with multiple people from different professional background will expand the children’s knowledge. They also become more confident in presenting themselves. In addition, reading culture should be encouraged early on so that children are accustomed to it. Having a reading habit is very good to support children’s development of linguistic intelligence. Children who have a habit of reading since they are young will have many ideas that can be poured through writing later on. This is the culture of literacy that is going to be developed by Taman Baca Innovator.