Fri, 30 May 2003

RI's first book village set to open next year

Sri Wahyuni The Jakarta Post Magelang, Central Java

If everything goes as planned, the first Indonesian book village in Magelang, Central Java will be ready for a grand opening and be fully operational early next year.

"We are currently preparing some additional buildings, like the one to house the Book Information Center," Surasmono, head of Magelang mayoralty planning office.

The Taman Kyai Langgeng Book Village was launched recently by Minister of National Education Malik Fadjar. It was based on cooperation between Magelang mayoralty administration and the Association of Indonesian Book Publishers (IKAPI) and has adopted the concept of a book town established in Hay-on-Way, Wales, England in 1961.

As an initial step, a number of supporting facilities have been prepared, made up mostly of existing buildings and facilities. These include bamboo book kiosks, open-air reading spaces, and traditional restaurants warung as they are called locally, offering specific menus and village-like themes.

Open stages and halls have also been provided for conducting performing arts and other supporting activities like book launchings, discussions, and various kinds of competitions. Festivals celebrating painting, book covers, illustrations and writing will also be held at the site.

A book information center, with internet facilities will also be set up as part of the book village in Taman Kyai Langgeng park.

A series of activities to promote events in the book village are also being prepared. These include distributing leaflets, raising banners, and advertising on radio, television, and through the local administration's website (

Covering an area of 27 hectares, Taman Kyai Langgeng recreational and educational park was chosen due to central location and excellent facilities.

The park is also home to 800 kinds of rare plants from across the country, and various birds. It also has open stages, playgrounds and restaurants. At certain times, the park hosts various traditional performances.

The park has been a main source of income for the local administration, raising nearly Rp 500 million a year. Last year, nearly a million tourists from the neighboring cities of Yogyakarta, Semarang and Surakarta visited the park.

"With all its facilities, Taman Kyai Langgeng meets all the requirements required to become a book village," IKAPI's Chairman Makfudin Wirya Atmaja said.

Magelang, similarly, is also considered to have all the requirements to host the book village. Apart from its strategic position as the transit town connecting two major cities, Semarang (Central Java) and Yogyakarta, the town is also a center of tourism and culture.

"We plan to have a biennial book town festival to attract international visitors to the city," Magelang Mayor Fahriyanto said.

The local administration is also preparing an institute to manage the book village. At present, the city's library division is managing the book village under its planning agency and education office.

According to Makfudin, Taman Kyai Langgeng Book Village would be the second book village in Southeast Asia after Malaysia Book Village was set up in Langkawi in 1997, and the 21st in the world.

The other book towns are in the U.K. (three), Belgium (two), France (three), Japan (two), the Netherlands, Norway, the U.S. (two), Switzerland, Germany (two), Finland and Canada.