Library usage is at an all-time low so I thought I'd set a poll to find out how many Islander readers still borrows books, and investigate why.
This may seem like an obvious one. The internet.
Yes, you can read books online through subscription services and yes you can steal books from various online sources. Of course you can also buy books from Amazon's Kindle and read them on an eReader, but who does that?
My lovely mother bought me a kindle years ago, gave me a USB stick with a tonne of knock-off books on it (thanks Mother!), but I never took to it and have carried on reading physical books.
My kids won't read books from a laptop. They'll watch &%$#@* Youtube though!
Physical books are addictive; the grain of the paper, the creek of the spine and waft they give off is a pleasure like no other.
The expression 'lost in a good book' is so true. I've missed countless train station stops and spent ages having to back-track on MTR lines having fallen head over heels in love with a story line or plot twist.
Have we simply moved on from books?
Is it simply a time problem? We have all the modern conveniences but we seem to have less personal time.
Back in my youth I used to read a book a week. I'd read on my 3 hour commute. I'd read at home, in the park, on aeroplanes, in queues - basically anywhere I'd now take my phone out. After having kids I've not read a full book in 6 years.
But here's where it gets interesting.
I never used to go to the library! All my books were from the supermarket, Amazon or charity shops. I couldn't even tell you where my local library was in North London. The money I must have spent unnecessarily.
Although I now don't read the latest Grisham or Bryson, I do read endless children's stories. Every bedtime the kids demand 2 books, and one extra if they've been good. *still trying to classify what this means*
So unless we come back late from somewhere, we're reading 14 books a week, plus a few. Discount the few and that's 5110 books a year. I don't know about you but I don't have space for that kind of book action. I could neither afford that many books nor accommodate that many books.
Thankfully God invented libraries.
Our library in Tung Chung is small but perfectly formed. The ENTIRE downstairs is devoted to kids' books. They have it all, both Western and loads more in Cantonese. They also have a lovely (currently cordoned off 12/7/22) reading area but the tables are still open.
Without this local library I genuinely don't know what I'd do to quench the kiddos' thirst for 'new' bedtime books. The staff are really lovely and very helpful and their English is thankfully great.
You'll need a library card to borrow any books. The process is simple - fill in a form, give your HKID - bla bla bla. I can't remember if you need to leave a deposit.
But you'll be rewarded with endless entertainment from different authors; science books, books about language, astronomy, beetles, dams, the internet, engineering, gravity, space - you name it. I do realise I'm describing a library.
AND IT'S COMPLETELY FREE.
No Book Depository. No Amazon. No Storage.
And it's got air conditioning.
I love my local library. Go and love your one too (Unless you already do - in which case: massive HIGH-5!)