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Amid Dwindling Readership, Is Digitization the Key to Save Vietnam's Libraries?

Cultivating a reading culture remains a challenging task when local libraries are under-utilized.

According to Zing, during a conference in Hanoi facilitated by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam titled "Developing and Innovating Libraries in The New Age," many government representatives proposed that libraries need to move forward with digital integration and digitization to attract more readers and better serve current users amidst concerns regarding Vietnam's decreasing library usage.

Statistics cited during the conference showed that Vietnamese only read 0.8 books per year on average, while the number of library users is also underwhelming.

Addressing this lack of readers, Deputy Director of the General Department of Politics of the Vietnam People’s Army Nguyen Phuong Dien lamented that many library staff members are still under-qualified, as many such positions are filled by old public servants from other departments, the news source shares.

National Assembly member Duong Quoc Trung, meanwhile, said that we should focus on digitizing libraries and their materials, rather than building fancy physical spaces.

In fact, digitization is already happening: according to the Department of Library, 98% of libraries have already started building and operating an online version and electronic database.

However, the lack of infrastructure, services and copyright framework remains a challenge for many library digitization projects.

Kieu Thuy Nga, the Director of the National Library, stressed to the news source that there needs to be new policies and regulations to accommodate this direction, especially when it comes to copyright matters.

"We need to focus on digitization, improve connection and sharing, increase resources and tackle the copyright issue," Nga said.

[Photo: a cafe-library hub in Hanoi /Vietnammoi]

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