I'm a journalist in Switzerland, writing an article about libraries in Finland. I have a few questions to ask:
1. Finland has about 930 public libraries. scientific libraries (as f.e. university libraries) are not included in that number?
2. what do you think why finnish people read a lot? (more than others do)
3. future: children play computer games, people get overcrowded with electronical media - is there a tendency that libraries are going to loose their popularity?
Thank you for answering!
The figure (930) you suggested is correct and does not - as you rightly surmised - include any of the university or research libraries or those of other institutes of higher education.
As to the reason why Finnish people read as much as they do, it is very difficult to give any definitive answer. However, the nature of the Finnish education system which relies heavily on the services provided by the public library system may go some way of explaining the phenomenon. In other words, children learn to use libraries at a relatively young age. All this emphasises the fact that reading as such has always been highly valued in Finland. Also that fact that parents read to young children during the long and dark winter may likewise be a contributing factor.
Neither computer games nor the influx of electronic media have diminished people's need for library services, quite the opposite. In fact, the Finnish library system has been - and still is - in the forefront of the so called information revolution. Public library is the only place where people are provided with free access to digital information, that means free of charge. Also, public library has been vary active during the past few years in supporting children's reading habits .e.g. by organising book-talk hours and other types of reading tips in libraries, schools and day care centres. However, it is possible that boys' interest in reading has waned somewhat due to computer games but then again, boys in general tend to be a little less interested in books than girls.
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