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Best public libraries in KL

Where to go to do some reading

By Kong Wai Yeng and Grace Yap

The best public libraries in the city for the bookishly curious, and kids.

The Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur (JFKL) Library

Theatre Mid Valley City

The library strips away the seemingly frivolous (no kawaii café, unfortunately), celebrating books as passionately as the way the Japanese embraces their Zen lifestyle. And Zen is what you get here – a hushed tatami area that exhibits the casualness of a living room, comfy couches and reading spaces decked out in earthy tones. Fuel your interest in the Japanese culture with fiction, literature and magazines, but you can also do it the fun way through their enviable selection of mangas. The JFKL also hosts cultural activities every month so keep an eye out. 
Membership fee RM10 annually.

KL Library TTDI Branch
Photo: Perpustakaan Kuala Lumpur/Facebook

KL Library (TTDI branch)

Attractions Libraries, archives and foundations TTDI

There’s something about browsing the towering shelves at this library that we love – the serendipity of chancing upon an interesting book we thought we wouldn’t like and picking up morsels of obscure knowledge along the way. The voracious reader will relish this treasure trove replete with encyclopaedias, dictionaries, fiction and even self-help books. There are long tables and cosy sofas to prolong your stay but we prefer the cosy nooks where you can hole up with a good read. Additionally, you will find fun things to do such as interactive tables, a games lounge, and even a movie room.

Membership RM16 first year, RM10 every subsequent year.

Raja Tun Uda Library
Photo: Joyce Koh

Perpustakaan Raja Tun Uda

Attractions Libraries, archives and foundations Shah Alam

Sleek, modern and steely – this is one of the quietest libraries we’ve been with the loudest architectural design. Situated next to the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Golf Club, this bibliotheca is pretty, yes, but wait until you venture inside where one can engage with literature, economics and culture in the luxury of private reading rooms, three gyms, a 3D and 6D theatre room and more. Don’t bother with study groups – with fast WiFi service and a cosy café overlooking a picturesque lake, you probably won’t get much reading done anyway. 
Free membership.

National Library of Malaysia

Things to do Literary events KL City Centre

Our national library is one to bookmark. Even if you’re not here for the exhaustive choices of reading material, the suitably demure architecture, inspired by the intricate traditional Malay headgear tengkolok, often elicits admiration. Gaze up at the celestial ceilings and you’ll find books – ranging from literary works by Malaysia’s poets, such as A Samad Said and Pak Sako, to Harvard academic journals – crowding the shelves. In achieving a knowledge-based nation, the Samsung Smart Library is a noteworthy space for digital learning and reading.

Free membership.

Libraries for the kids

Playcentre Library

Attractions Libraries, archives and foundations Petaling Jaya

Set in a humble bungalow house, this well-maintained library is manned by a group of volunteers and expatriates in KL. Playcentre currently stocks more than 26,000 titles – both fiction and non-fiction – in English and Bahasa Malaysia. Expect books ranging from babies and toddlers to fluent readers and teenagers. They also have a room of non-fiction and adult non-fiction books for the older readers.

PJ Community Library
Photo: Hizwan Hamid

PJ Community Library

Attractions Libraries, archives and foundations Petaling Jaya

It’s not the most good-looking library in the city but the children’s section on the ground floor features a variety of educational magazines (remember Kuntum?) and local fairy tale books.


KL’s Children Library

Attractions Libraries, archives and foundations KL City Centre

Apart from a hefty selection of children’s books, this extension of the Kuala Lumpur library offers storytelling sessions, computer classes, school holiday programmes and puppet shows to help your kids develop a penchant for languages.


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