Two months ago, a unique library opened in Dodu village, located right next to the Jeju International Airport. Seobu Soundproof Library is the first library in Korea built in an area close to the noise of a very busy international airport like Jeju’s.
In a village where houses tremble whenever planes take off or land, the disruption is especially hard on students attending schools in the area. For example, even though Dori Elementary School was equipped with soundproofing, conditions were such that many students complained about the noise and some even had to transfer to another school to maintain concentration during classes.
According to Dodu 1 village chief Ko Young Ryul, all of these difficulties made villagers take action at a general town meeting in 2008. They requested that the Korea Airports Corporation (KAC) build a library in their community as a way of compensation. They succeeded, and construction of the library was completed last October.
However, their journey to open the library wasn’t without unexpected turbulence. The KAC cited civil aeronautics laws that stipulated the corporation was not obligated to pay for the library’s operating expenses, only its construction costs.
The library manager Su In Suk said many people put forth a great deal of effort and made personal sacrifices to solve this problem. Council member Kang Chang Il even petitioned the National Assembly in April of last year to change the law. Even though the law was not changed, the Jeju province decided to pay the operating expenses.
In the end, the library opened its doors on Dec. 11, 2011. At 331m2, it is a cozy space consisting of a main library with 10,670 books, a study room with 70 seats, a computer room, and a lecture room.
And of course the sound-proofing materials used in the thick walls and doors, which make a library at this location possible, are very special.
Su said patrons can’t tell when planes are flying overhead. Even when people talk in the computer room or the lecture room which is next to the study room, once the doors are shut, visitors are no longer bothered by the noise.
“In particular, students of Dori Elementary feel at home here. After school, most of them come to the library through the door connected to the school,” Su said.
Since opening, word of this convenient public space has gotten out to other villages in the area. Su said that they have patrons who come from Nohyeong, Yongdam, Iho, Oedo, and even as far away as Hallim.
The library sees about 150 people a day and during the school exam period the study room is filled. Su hopes more secondary school students will benefit from the library.
“This library is a safer place for students to study than other private reading rooms in far-off places. It will also reduce the burden of the educational costs that parents face,” Su said.
Yun Hyo Seong, an adult patron from Iho village next to Dodu village, comes to the library everyday to use the study room. He said there are few libraries in his area and he cannot study at home because of the noise from aircraft. The next closest is Tamna Library in Nohyeong-dong, but getting there is inconvenient because of infrequent buses.
As for the merits of the library, he pointed out that it is new, clean, and most of all ... quiet.
“From the start I was pleased to hear this library would be built. I think this library is for [those who have to suffer from the noise].”
<Jeju Weekly firstname.lastname@example.org ⓒ Jeju Weekly All rights reserved>