SEOUL, May 7 (Korea Bizwire) — A growing number of South Koreans are taking up reading to pass the time as they are spending more time indoors due to the coronavirus.
As public libraries have shut down due to social distancing policy, South Koreans are resorting to digital devices to read e-books or borrow books via ‘untact’ library services.
Local authorities, too, are offering various programs to encourage residents to read as part of a psychological method of overcoming the coronavirus.
For the period between February and April, Seoul’s Gangnam District E-Book Library reported a 52 percent increase in e-book rentals (58,026 books), compared to last year (38,179 books), as public libraries were closed.
Seongbuk Public Library began offering untact rental services for some 690,000 books that have recently been disinfected via unmanned reservation kiosks installed at 12 locations throughout the district.
As a result, the average number of books borrowed daily jumped from 363 books to 786 books.
The library, in response, has cut the standby time from two days to one day and allocated 20 percent of its purchasing budget to buy electronic books.
Unmanned, smart libraries were also launched in Seokgye and Korea University Station on Seoul Subway Line 6 on April 15, allowing local residents to borrow new publications and popular children’s books.
From April 21, safe book rental services have also been launched to lend out disinfected, pre-packaged books through untact means.
Eunpyeong District’s Eunturak Public Library has been helping those without access to libraries to read books at home since March.
The library is offering web services to read free electronic books online, recommendations and curations by librarians on books, and instructions on how to use the smart libraries at local subway stations.
Dobong District plans to offer e-book subscription services and introduce additional e-learning content.
“E-books are essential tools to encourage book reading in the new era,” said Lee Dong-jin, head of Dobong District.
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)