Visits to public libraries in the nation last year exceeded 100 million for the first time, an annual Ministry of Education report said.
That was an increase of 22.83 million visits, or 24.82 percent, from 2018, the report said.
Visitors last year borrowed 81.3 million items, rising 3.39 million, or 4.35 percent, from 2018, it said.
Photo: Hung Mei-hsiu, Taipei Times
While the number of e-books borrowed last year grew 46.55 percent annually to more than 2.55 million, the number of visitors who checked out printed books also increased 3.98 percent, it said.
Based on the figures, there was no “crowding-out” effect between the two formats, the Department of Lifelong Education said.
On average, Taiwanese last year visited public libraries 4.86 times and borrowed 3.44 items.
As of last year, 16.89 million public library cards had been issued, up from 15.95 million in 2018, it added.
Among the six special municipalities, Taipei last year had the highest percentage of residents with public library cards at 79 percent, followed by Taoyuan with 72 percent, Kaohsiung at 62 percent, Tainan with 60 percent, New Taipei City at 52 percent and Taichung with 45 percent, the report said.
Kaohsiung residents last year visited public libraries an average of 9.76 times, compared with Taipei’s 6.34, New Taipei City’s 5.18, Taoyuan’s 4.98, Taichung’s 4.18 and Tainan’s 3.8, it said.
Taipei residents last year borrowed an average of 4.87 items from public libraries, compared with 4.71 in Taichung, 4.42 in Tainan, 4.34 in Kaohsiung, 2.6 in Taoyuan and 2.59 in New Taipei City, it added.
Continued growth across various indicators demonstrates public libraries’ commitment to promoting their services, as well as a passion for reading, the department said.
The functions of libraries today have gone beyond the scope of traditional services, it said.
Besides lending materials to readers, libraries now also offer a diverse range of services that include events and discussions, it said.
These services allow libraries to be “not only public centers of knowledge and life-long learning, but also become an indispensable part of people’s lives,” it said.
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