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Rare Carnegie Library in Malaysia to be demolished

By
S.C. WEE

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- One of the rare Carnegie Free Libraries existing outside the United States can be found on the east coast of Malaysia.

But the Carnegie Library in Kota Bahru, 250 miles northeast of Kuala Lumpur, will be demolished in a few months to make way for a high-rise shopping and office complex.

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The few conservation groups out to preserve historical buildings in fast-developing Malaysia have not objected.

'After all, the library was already nationalie' said one of them.

The library's name has since been changed to the Kglantan Publicf Kota Bahru still refer to it as the Carnegie Library, reminded by the bold letters 'Carnegie' engraved on the porch of the old colonial bungalow building.

In June, the demolition squad will move in to tear down the old building, which will be replaced by a 12-story modern structure. The library will be moved to a new $2 million location.

Miss Anidah Mohamad, one of the librarians, said she is looking forward to the new premises, which can provide better facilities for the more than 100 daily visitors to the library.

Chief Librarian Nik Arif said the Carnegie Library was established in 1938 from funds provided by the Carnegie organization in New York.

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'It was Mr. A.C. Baker, the British colonial adviser to the Kelantan government at that time, who managed to convince the Carnegie Corp. to provide the 1,000 (British) pounds to start the library,' Nik said.

He said Kota Bahru was isolated from the other major Malaysia towns and there were hardly any entertainment facilities to speak of.

'So a library was an urgent need at that time,' Nik said.

The Lincoln Center in Kuala Lumpur said the Carnegie Free Library in Kota Bahru was one of the two left in the world outside the United States, set up by the late American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

With the Malaysian one gone in June, the only Carnegie Free Library left will be on the Mauritius islands in the Indian Ocean.

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