+ A

Bookworms camp out in school library

At KNUE, young scholars play and curl up with good books
June 04,2016
Students participating in Korea National University of Education’s book camp read books inside a tent set up on the first floor of the school’s library on May 20. [CHOI JONG-KWON]
The Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges once wrote that he had always pictured Paradise as a kind of library, and while libraries these days are thought of as stodgy old dens for the unhip, one project in Korea is changing that perception by transforming a local library into an explorative camping space.

On an afternoon in May, about 40 undergraduate and graduate students assembled on the second floor of the library at Korea National University of Education in Cheongju, North Chungcheong, and split into groups of 10.

A student in one of the groups put her thumb forward and two of the students seated up front shouted, “Thumbelina!” The three of them hopped about with joy, and the game continued.

The students also took part in a game in which participants have to guess the name of a book by rearranging the syllables from Korean titles of different books. It took about three minutes for one of the group to guess the book correctly. “Les Miserables!” a student hurriedly shouted after another carefully read over the given book titles, “Black Jack (1996),” “Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland (1865),” “Jane Eyre (1847),” and a non-fiction novel from Japan.

“It took you guys two minutes and 58 seconds,” said one of the faculty members who were supervising the event. “Hope you guys improve in the next game!”

At 9:30 p.m., the students went to the first floor of the library and climbed into their tents, each with a lamp and several books of their own choice. The students left the next day at 7:00 a.m., after writing a review of the books they had read.

The students were required to read four books selected by the library in order to be able to participate in the games and quizzes related to those books.

About 10 four-person tents were set up across the first floor of the library. After the games and quizzes were over, students selected several books and sat down in a corner or inside their tents to read. The university later gifted the books to the students.

“I chose a book about the power of consistency written by a Japanese writer,” said Jung Sung-kyeong, 20, who studies physics education, “because I find it difficult to study or exercise on a consistent basis. I also find it very romantic to read books within groups with lanterns.”

Another participant in the event, Lee Ye-jin, 35, a graduate student in the university as well as a teacher, read books and advised her juniors about what it means to be a good teacher.

About 20 university faculty members helped distribute hamburgers, coffee and snacks to the participants.

“I’m soon going on a business trip to Spain,” said Lee Jong-sun, 50, a worker from the administration office. “So I came here to read books on Spain and offer a hand.”

The university is also planning to hold a reading camp for faculty members on June 17 and also hopes to invite local residents to next year’s book event.

“We organized this event so that the students can get to read more books and create good memories during their university years,” said Lew Hee-chan, the president of the university. “I hope the students get to truly enjoy books through this camp.”

BY CHOI JONG-KWON [shin.sooyeon@joongang.co.kr]