The “2021 Annual Report on Reading Atmosphere and Reading Engagement in Taiwan” is Released During the Pandemic, Libraries were a Safe Haven for Calming and Enriching the Heart and Soul
The Ministry of Education (MOE) has announced the “2021 Annual Report on Reading Atmosphere and Reading Engagement in Taiwan.” This report aims to analyze the public’s reading engagement and reading interests in 2021, as well as identify the books most often borrowed from national public libraries. Utilizing library operation statistics, this analysis was carried out on public reading engagement, and cities with outstanding performances were commended.
In 2021, people’s daily lives and working styles changed; therefore, the ways they used libraries were also different. Due to the pandemic prevention measures, the outcome has been decreasing tendencies for people entering public areas, causing a dramatic drop in the total number of yearly entrances to the libraries. Additionally, in 2021, people in Taiwan recorded as visiting libraries throughout the year was a total of 58.59 million times, which was 21.1 million fewer times than the previous year. However, the total number of people borrowing books maintained a high level, which was 18.9 million. Statistics show that as many as 69.77 million books and materials were borrowed and used. On average a person borrowed 2.98 books from libraries for the year. (In comparison with 2020, when the total number of visits to libraries in 2021 decreased by 21.1 million, this reflected a decrease of 26.47 %; however, even though the total number of people borrowing books decreased by 3.3 million, this reflected a lesser decrease of 14.86 %; overall, the total number of books borrowed decreased by 1.038 million, a decrease of 12.95 %.)
Moreover, despite the impact of the pandemic concerns, the growth of online services in libraries has obviously rocketed. “E-book reading” has become a popular trend. The total number of e-books borrowed during the entire year was 8.06 million (increasing 4.43 million in comparison to 2020), with a noticeable rise in e-book borrowers of 122.04%, reflecting this preferred reading resource during the pandemic. Additionally, there was an increase in the number of citizens in Taiwan using “library internet resource” by 29.76 million times (growing 5.66 %). The public would rather visit libraries virtually and use various kinds of resources in libraries to enrich themselves as well as achieving self-directed learning.
In looking at overall reading interests in 2021, language and literature works continued to be loved by the public. Statistics show that nearly half of the public enjoyed reading literature works. In addition, adults aged from 35 to 44 years old were the most active library reading group and have borrowed the most books for years. Taking into consideration the details of borrowing book lists, it was clear to see that books on philosophy self-help were the most popular among readers. Furthermore, the book rankings this year illustrated that books about healthy eating, decluttering, finance and investment were also successful. The reason why these books were the most used this year was probably because of the pandemic. Many people worked from home and started to care about the issues surrounding healthy eating. In addition, they desired to learn financial management, as well as investment, through reading at the same time, and hoped to increase their income during this time.
In terms of reading engagement, for “Cities with Outstanding Overall Reading Engagement” in the “Special Municipality” group, saw Taipei City, Tainan City and Taichung City. In the “Counties and Cities” group, including Keelung City, Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County, Miaoli County, Changhua County, Yilan County, Taitung County, Penghu County, and Kinmen County. Additionally, “Cities with Outstanding Reading Engagement in Each Category” showed that the people in Sanwan Township, Miaoli County were the most active borrowers of library books, with each person borrowing on average 18.94 volumes. Sanwan has held this honor for the last eight consecutive years. The people of Taitung City went to libraries the most, with each citizen visiting an average of 3.7 times every year. Over 90% of people in Keelung City had library cards, which was the highest percentage in Taiwan.
The Minister of the MOE, Wen-Chung Pan, stated that the MOE published the “2021 Annual Report on Reading Atmosphere and Reading Engagement,” with the purpose of presenting the social reading situation in Taiwan, and then assisting libraries and publishers across the nation to attract the reading preferences among readers. Moreover, this annual report was helpful in highlighting the results and efforts of the government’s long-term promotion of reading. In order to continue developing and cultivating an atmosphere of “loving to read” throughout both the cities and the countryside, the MOE will continue to maintain and complete public library systems. At the same time, the MOE will support the expansion of resources among public libraries as well as reconstruct reading environments inside. Last but not least, with the development of various innovative services in public libraries, the MOE expects to cultivate the reading habits of the citizens and raise the overall reading literacy of the public.