The numbers prove that the National Library is not a hot spot with city folk.Only 491,497 people visited the place last year. A quick calculation: divide the total by 365 days and the library gets only 1,347 visitors a day. ... In 2005, the number of visitors recorded painted a sadder picture at 285,688 people but the National Library had a valid reason as some sections were closed due to an overhaul of its roofing system which extended into the early months of 2006.One of the problems mentioned in the article is accessibility - many people who would like to use the facilities just don't have the means of transport to get there.
National Library director Siti Zakiah Aman outlines plans to bring more visitors to the library including educational interactive programmes with exhibitions, games and performances by a children ’s theatre group. Outreach reading programmes will also be organised.
A related article looks at the low visitor numbers of the Raja Tun Uda Library in Shah Alam, Selangor, while another polls fifty members of the public and asks them when was the last time they used a public library. For most it was when they were still at school or studying. One of the respondents points out that the dress-code enforced in libraries (no shorts, revealing t-shirts or slippers*) is a sticking-point. Many readers prefer to buy books or find the information they read on-line.
But Deputy PM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak seems to me a bit merajuk**when he says that there is no point in building more libraries or providing more tax relief for books if most Malaysians do not care to read.
Maybe Klang's new 13m E-library (left with Klang Municipal Council (MPK) president Abdul Bakir Zin pictured in front of it) will be more successful?
(Translations for those from elsewhere: * Local word for flip-flops/thongs; **Untranslatable Malay word, the closest meaning in English being "to sulk".)