Hardly anyone's reading on the LRT (above) despite the launch of the Baca@LRT campaign on Facebook :
And it seems that the branch libraries are not really attracting users either.
Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim has decided that the answer to the problem is to set up another study to find out about Malaysians' reading habits.
Readers of this blog may remember me getting very cross about the last time a large scale survey was carried out by the National Library because the results were never properly made public and questions about how the data was gathered were never revealed. It would have been useful for academics, teacher-trainers, teachers, bookshop buyers, and other stakeholders to have had access to that data. (Some of those in the book retail industry anyway disputed the figures that did get quoted.)
One thing that does give me hope is that when you go along to a cheap book sale or to a book fair in the Klang Valley, the venue is invariably packed out. (I'm sure those of you who went to the BookXcess sale today would bear me out.) I think that a lot of people are keen to own books rather than borrow them.
I suspect that a lot of people don't read in public because it is considered a slightly odd thing to do: it hasn't become a part of the culture. I'd go crazy if I were without a book for any length of time, but unless you have a pretty hungry reading habit, you are not going to think like that.
The Read While Waiting Project was a nice idea, but doesn't seem to have come to anything either despite the hype that surrounded it. Pity!