Time to book an appointment at this free ATM

May 13, 2020 | 10:36 am GMT+7

A free book ATM has been installed at a Hà Nội bookstore and its creators hope it will give people who can’t afford to buy books the chance to read more.


“Reading a book can bring peace to a reader’s soul and people can apply knowledge in real life much more often,” said Lê Thị Thanh Mai, manager of the Vườn Yêu Thương book club.

The machine was built in just three days and has been installed at Thái Hà Books. The store’s president Dr Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng also built the first rice ATM in Hà Nội.
“I thought it was time for a free book ATM,” said Dr Hùng.  
“Books enrich people’s lives, and encourage them to be more civilised and strive for their dreams. I want underprivileged people to learn, and have access to rice support.
“Knowledge helps free poor people from poverty.”

There are many kinds of books in the ATM, ranging from reference to spiritual books. - VNS photo - Paul Kennedy
The books range from reference books, medical books to spiritual books. The ATM allows people to make a choice, key in the number and the book drops out of the machine and is free to take.
Vườn Yêu Thương works closely with the book store. The organisation operates as a book club across the capital city and allows people to get together to talk about books they have enjoyed.
The club's manager Mai added: “This book ATM is a free book and reading encouragement project.
“First, we want to encourage people to read books more often to build a book reading culture.
“Second, we provide free books for people who have financial problems, so they can access knowledge and make their lives better.”
With this machine, everyone can get one free book each week, but they will need to leave their information to avoid people abusing the system.
“At the moment, the ATM is at its first stage and not yet completed so we have to manually manage information,” Mai said.
“That means after one person chooses a book, we will ask their information and record it on the computer. One person can get only one book per week.
“In its second version, the machine will be equipped with ID and face recognition technology.
The first version of this book ATM was made in three days by Doãn Thanh Tùng and his friends, the same group of people who made the rice dispenser in Cầu Giấy District.
“The most difficult part while building this machine is time. From the time that I accepted doing this project to launching time was only three days,” Tùng said.
“We were in a hurry and during social distancing so some parts which needed to be specially made couldn’t because factories didn’t want to take the order.
“Many parts of this machine are self-produced and our own handiwork.”
In these modern times, many people shun actual copies of books and opt for electronic versions to read on Kindles or tablets.
But Mai believes this kind of scheme will help people get back to books.
“I have a lot of confidence in books and the book ATM project,” she added.
“Because I believe that although the internet and other reading tools may be really convenient, books can connect readers with the content.
“This is the value of books that no other modern reading devices can replace.”
At the moment, the project is just at 119C5 Tô Hiệu, Cầu Giấy District, Hà Nội, but Mai is confident it can be soon deployed at all branches of Thái Hà Books.
“If the rice ATM project can be implemented and replicated quickly because of the situation at that time, the book ATM is a long term project so we will take a step-by-step approach,” Mai said.
“When the first version of the machine works well with all issues being solved, we will bring in the second version and deploy it to all of our stores.”