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Youths shelve print books

Update: October, 23/2013 - 09:46
Many Vietnamese youth have abandoned printed books and their school libraries in favour of short news items and the occasional ebook on the internet, educators say.— File Photo

HCM CITY (VNS)— Many Vietnamese youth have abandoned printed books and their school libraries in favour of short news items and the occasional ebook on the internet, educators say.

Nguyen Nhat Truong, a student at the HCM City University of Industry, for example, has never spent one single dong to buy a book, newspaper or magazine.

Though his school library has ample materials, he avoids it. Instead, he searches the internet for entertainment or to fulfil lecturers' assignments.

At the library, he said students must leave a VND50,000-100,000 (US$2.3-4.7) deposit when borrowing a book. That alone drives them away.

He does remember, however, buying three novels on sale at a bookstore downtown during his first year of university.

Ten or 20 years ago, Truong said books were the only option but now it was more interesting to watch a video clip or read an online book.

"It takes a lot of time to find a book in the school library and read it for information I need. I can get it very quickly with the internet. Besides the textbooks I must buy, I seldom spend money to buy books," he said.

"Most students at my school visit the library to review their lessons. Young people now spend most of their time updating information related to showbiz, Facebook and game shows, leaving no time to read printed books. I never read books except ghost stories," Truong said.

He admitted that during his three years at university, he has visited the library a few times. But he went there to chat and not read books.

He said the library's books and magazines were old and outdated.

Nguyen Truong An, a first-year student at HCM City University of Transport, rarely visits the library and, when he does, it is for textbooks only. And the librarian is unfriendly, he said.

Even with his allowance from his parents, he does not buy books and instead reads about news and football online.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Viet Nam National University, most students do not have time to read and do not have enough money to buy books.

Seventy per cent of the students said they had little interest in books, with 25 per cent saying they loved books and 5 per cent only mildly interested.

The readers said that 60 per cent of what they read were comic books. Some of them chose to read short stories and novels.

At a recent seminar on the library sector organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, educators blamed the lack of innovation of the country's library system.

Le Thi Bich Hong, deputy director of the Culture and Arts Department under the Central Committee for Propaganda Education, was quoted in Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying that younger Vietnamese preferred comics or books that were not classics. Many youth no longer want to read longer books and choose short texts.

Hong said she was concerned that students no longer see the value of reading.

She cited a survey that showed that only two per cent of parents' monthly expenditures for their children were used to buy printed books.

Some of the parents said their children had not formed the habit of reading books.

Pham The Khang, chairman of the Viet Nam Library Association, said that 10 years had passed since the target to upgrade, unify and standardise the library system in the country. But it has yet to be realised, he added. — VNS

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