Interesting article in The Star's Kuala Lumpur Metro today. Reading at book stores the rage now (strangely, the online version said "book sores") basically says that Malaysians prefer to read at book stores than libraries. Honestly, this is old news to me. I used to spend every Sunday curled up in the MPH Reader's Lounge reading a book. I'd try to ignore the snoring dude that always seemed to be there whenever I'm there, and read a book on interior decorating or the latest bestseller. The ambience in MPH's Subang Jaya store is the best - way better than the one in Mid Valley where there is barely a place to sit, but I digress.
The state of Malaysian libraries - at least the ones in Klang Valley - is pitiful. Why do people not go to the libraries? Here are the reasons:
- It's inconviniently situated - the National Library for one, is located on the busy and difficult-to-access Jln Tun Razak.
- The books there are old, old, old. Bestsellers, new books etc are just plain hard to find. I didn't even realise that libraries buy best selling books (until I read book blogs from overseas). I used to think libraries just buy books that you don't see in bookstores!
- Dress codes. No wearing singlets, slippers, short sleeves, short skirts in a library. Didn't know libraries became the moral centres of the universe suddenly.
- There are just too few of them!
Malaysians don't read much. I think below 10% of us read regularly. The first reason is probably the most obvious one: books are damn expensive-lah! Sometimes, if I go berserk, I could spend 1/4 of my pay on books! Honestly, if they want a reading nation, they'd have to give libraries a budget for books, and not shelve the expenses for buying books under 'misc'!
Our only saving grace is from Pay Less Books (a place for 2nd hand books) or rent-a-book stores.
I'll be in dreamland if libraries:
- Are found within the residential area instead of out there in the city somewhere. The more accessible, the more readers you'll get! Walking to the library! What a dream!
- Have new, current, best-sellers on their shelves so that I can save my money.
- Don't have all the nice books under reference section.
- Don't have those silly dress code rules anymore.
I live in Subang Jaya, and I think it's just absolutely appalling that we don't have a library. (We do have a Multimedia library, but I don't like reading books on computer screens!) If only the powers that be would spend $ on a well-stocked library instead of building useless gardens with giant bird sculptures.
The best-est library I've ever been to was the library in Johor Baru. That was like, more than 10 years ago (oh no, I really feel my age suddenly). They had Asterix & Obelix comics, for goodness sakes! I used to count the days where I'll get to visit the super-secret adults' section. Too bad we moved to KL - where libraries are so few and far in between - before I could.
Any bigwigs listening to this rant? If so, please do something about our libraries!