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NEWS UPDATES 18 September 2010

Vietnam promoting libraries

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Setting up a modern network of libraries with professional librarians and various kinds of books around the country by 2020 is part of a proposed national strategy to stimulatereading

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's Library Department has unveiled a draft of the strategy which will also seek to develop the ability to use the information obtained from books and the internet.

A mobile library service will be developed in rural and mountainous areas for residents' benefit. The government will also build more libraries in northern mountainous and Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) provinces, upgrade existing ones and also increase their number of books. Libraries in large cities like HCM City, Ha Noi, Da Nang, Can Tho, and Hue will be developed to international standards.

All libraries will use information technology.

Private libraries will be encouraged.

The department said more than 40,000 libraries, including those at universities and schools, were in existence 2009.

However, the reading habit has yet to become widespread, Vu Duong Thuy Nga, the department's deputy head, admitted.

She listed a number of shortcomings.

Too few books

Libraries may have been built but they do not fully meet the demands of people.

The average number of books per person at public libraries is low.

High-schools students go to their school library just once a week on average because of a shortage of librarians and the small size of libraries.

There are not enough quality books and magazines in libraries, especially in rural and mountainous areas.

Most ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and rural residents still lack easy access to books, newspapers, and magazines.

Nga said an important reason for reading being unpopular is schools and universities' failure to make it a central element of learning.

Students are not taught how to use libraries effectively and get information, she said. But also, not enough good books are published because the failure to enforce copyright means there is no incentive for writers.

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