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[Editorial] Libraries

Posted September. 11, 2007 03:11,   


Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said, “Of course I‘ll buy my children a computer. But I’ll buy them books first.” He once recalled that the reading habit he formed by spending much time in a small neighborhood library as a child has made him what he is. His favorite place at his home is his private library which holds some 14,000 books.

In this digital world where you can get all kinds of information with one click, many of the world leaders and rich people are still serious readers. You can readily obtain knowledge and information from the Internet. But critical thinking and insight are fostered by reading. No matter how much information and entertainment TVs and computers generate, books and printed materials, including newspapers and magazines, are what nurtures thinking ability and insight.

Warren Buffet spends a third of his time reading books, investment-related data, newspapers, and magazines everyday. Li Ka Shing, a middle school dropout who has become Asia’s richest man, always reads as well. He said that from books, he not only gets information but also enhances concentration. Winston Churchill who was behind in school became prime minister of the U.K. and earned a Nobel Prize in Literature mainly thanks to reading.

Korea has developed into the 11th largest economy in the world through the Miracle of the Han River. But it is unclear if the country can keep growing in this global era when knowledge is competitiveness. Such concern arises because Koreans do not read books much. It is fair to say that Koreans do not read at all. There is a marginalized population who is deprived of the pleasure of reading because they do not have books to read or proper space to read although they are willing to do so. Korea has 564 civil libraries, much less than 9,211 in the U.S. and 2,825 in Japan. The population per library stands at 86,865 in Korea, much higher than France (14,501) and the U.S. (31,253). Moreover, the libraries are away from people’s homes, which make it harder to use them.

The Dong-A Ilbo and the Association for Small Libraries launched an initiative to build town libraries at schools in rural villages. Their purpose is to quench the teenagers’ and villagers’ thirst for books. Building libraries is the surest investment to open a bright future for Korea and its people. The Dong-A Ilbo sincerely wishes active participation from those who share the same belief.