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Bored during MCO? Here’s a 3-min guide on how to borrow books from Perpustakaan Negara

It has been over a month since the movement control order (MCO) has been implemented. And among all the things Malaysian have been doing throughout this period – Marie Kondo-ing your house, trying out new recipes and joining social media challenges, among other stuff – it is pretty surprising to see a lot of Malaysians picking up a book to read.

We’re not simply spurting out information because, according to reports from the Perpustakaan Negara (PNM), there has been a rise in the number of books (read: e-books) borrowed from the national library. PNM Library System and Network Division senior deputy director Aidatul Hasnida Abdul Rani said that a sum of 40,000 digital books were borrowed compared to the usual 15,000 books during regular months.

Just in case y’all forgot how Perpustakaan Negara looks like. Img from Ismaweb

If this intrigues you, then you’re in luck. Being the book nerds we are at CILISOS, we decided to get our hands on these e-books by having Aidatul guide us through the process. 

The first thing we learnt is that…


You can actually borrow books from Perpustakaan Negara through… VARIOUS apps!?

As it turns out, there are two ways to borrow digital books, or any sort of reading materials, from Perpustakaan Negara. 

“Users can directly access and read through u-Pustaka’s website. However, users can also opt to download applications provided by online database providers through Google Play and App Store to allow our users to borrow books and use features and facilities provided in the application.” – Aidatul to CILISOS. Translated from BM.

See we tried borrowing e-books using these two ways. However, what we discovered was how you can only borrow physical reading materials (yes, even if it says electronic books) through the website itself. But this is a story for another day.

We accidentally made a booking order on a physical electronic book. #noob Don’t make the same mistake, gais!

What you can do tho is to scroll down u-Pustaka’s home page and look for a section called ‘Online Databases’…

Or simply click this screenshot from u-Pustaka

…and click on it. It will lead you to a page full of a list of online database providers and the applications they provide that allow you to borrow any type of digital reading materials. But with sooooooo maaannnyyyyy of them, how would you even know which provider and application to use?

Aidatul told us that you can choose any applications to download depending on what you wanna borrow. So if you may wanna download…

With the limited time we have and since we’ll be focusing on how to borrow e-books, we’d be guiding you on how to use two apps – PNM e-reader and LibbyIf you wanna use different apps to borrow other reading materials like e-journals or e-magazines, you can always click on ‘How to Access’.

So, let’s start with…


1. PNM e-reader

This is basically Perpustakaan Negara’s app la. If you’re looking for local titles, this is an app that you may wanna download.

“PNM e-reader is an application that provides about 90% of local books for Malaysians for free.” – Aidatul.

She added that you can borrow these books for free when you register as a u-Pustaka member on its website (or click here to register). Unfortunately, we were told that this is the only way to register as a u-Pustaka member. But don’t worry because the process is super easy and you can simply register as a member using your MyKad (for Malaysians) or passport number (for foreigners). 

Aidatul also added that some applications such as PNM e-reader would require you to create a separate account to use the application itself. So once you’ve downloaded the app, you can create an account by clicking on ‘New User’.

You’d be required to fill in some details and once you’re done with that, you can log in to the app and start browsing for books. You can either use the search button to look for the books you want to borrow…

…or browse through the library to look for more books.

Click here…

…and you’ll be taken here.

Once you’ve picked a book, you can check its availability

…and scroll down till you see the ‘Borrow’ button to borrow it. And voila! The book is now yours for seven days and you can find it on your ‘My Books’ list.

Click on ‘My Books’…

…and look for your book under ‘Borrowed’.


2. Libby

After downloading the app, you can opt to sign in with your u-Pustaka member or library card. Don’t worry if you’re not a u-Pustaka member or if you’ve never even set foot in the National Library to get a library card. 

And that’s because the best part of this app is how you DON’T even need to have a real library card. You can simply sign in with your library card and use card numbers between pnm001 and pnm999. But this would mean that you might be sharing your library card with several other people.

Img from PNM

Img from PNM

Once you’ve signed in the app, you can search for the books you wanna read by clicking on ‘Library’.


Once you found the book you wanna read, just click on the title and you’d see this.

Then, click on borrow…

…and voila! The book is all yours for seven days. You can find all your borrowed books on ‘Shelf’.

See, just as with the physical library, you have limits as to how many books you can borrow at a time and when you need to return them.

So this is pretty much not allowed. Gif from The Storypedia

Aidatul shared that you can only borrow at most TWO books at a time for seven days. 

“While our e-magazine and e-newspaper online database providers do not set loan limits.” – Aidatul.

But wait…


What if I can’t find the book I wanna read from any of these apps??

While researching for this story, we found that it’s pretty hard to find certain books. So we can’t help but wonder to whom we can ask for help to find these books. This is because, unlike a physical library, there is no librarian to help you search for the e-books you want to read. 

Thankfully, Aidatul told us that there are several ways to get in touch with PNM. One way to get in touch with PNM’s librarian is through Ask u-Pustaka. You can do so by submitting an enquiry via a form on the website.

This may seem like a generic pic but it is from u-Pustaka website. Click image to submit an enquiry.

Other ways you can get in touch with PNM is through…

And don’t worry if the book you wanna borrow is not available because, according to Aidatul, PNM is digitising more reading materials to cater to the high demands of the public. 

“Recognising the need to increase our local digital content, PNM is taking the initiative to digitise content such as Malay manuscripts, rare books, national collections and local newspapers under the u-Pustaka as the National Information Hub project.” – Aidatul.

So if you’re running out of books to read like some folks here at CILISOS and since we were informed that the library is still closed despite the newly implemented Conditional MCO, then you may wanna start looking for more digital books to read from Perpustakaan Negara. #totallynotsponsored

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