BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) plans to strengthen its information repository, manpower and expertise with the view to establish a national library by 2024.

The creation of a national library in 2024 is part of the ministry’s strategic plan, YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan POKSMDSP Hj Abidin said during a Legislative Council (LegCo) session on Wednesday. 

The minister’s statement was made in response to LegCo member YB Hj Mohimin Hj Johari’s call to revisit the construction of a national library.

YB Hj Mohimin suggested creating a government-linked company to manage the national library, so it would be equipped with modern amenities, as well as restaurants and cafes.

The minister said the Language and Literature Bureau (known by its Malay acronym, DBP), which manages all government’s libraries, has revamped existing libraries to attract more visitors.

“We have already transformed DBP libraries into a community hub and a record number of 200,000 people visited the libraries in 2019/2020,” he added.

There are nine public libraries nationwide, with the number of users rising from 80,000 in 2018 to almost 200,000 in 2020.

The Language and Literature Bureau library in the downtown Bandar is the largest public library in the country.

“DBP is still relevant even with [the advent of] technology. Memberships and book lending have increased, so it shows that the reading culture has improved and that DBP is still relevant,” the minister said.

“At the same time, we welcome village consultative councils who have used DBP as a platform in organising community-based activities.”

MCYS creates inventory on Brunei’s seven tribes

The DBP has also created an inventory of resources to protect the cultural heritage of Brunei’s seven indigenous ethnic groups.

“To date, 259 entries have been recorded and this number will increase over time. The list of dialects of the seven tribes has also been completed and published in 2011,” YB Dato Hj Aminuddin said.

Responding to LegCo member YB Hj Umarali Esung’s question on MCYS’s efforts to preserve Brunei’s indigenous heritage, the minister said DBP is also working on publishing e-dictionaries for each of the tribes languages.

The seven indigenous groups recognised by the government are Brunei-Malay, Kedayan, Murut, Tutong-Malay, Belait-Malay, Dusun and Bisaya.