Director of the National Library: 38% reading to adults does not correspond to our aspirations for civilization |

38 percent adult reading does not correspond to our aspirations for civilization. We want more people to read for pleasure, satisfying their own interests, says National Library director Dr. Tomasz Makowski. The main cause of non-reading is that much of society does not associate reading with adulthood, he points out.

Polish News Agency: The latest research from the National Library shows that reading levels in Poland have returned to pre-pandemic levels (38%). What does it mean? Can you be optimistic?

Dr. Tomasz Makowski: This is both good and bad news. Agreed, because we have confirmation of a definitive end to the downward trend, and this in the period of popularity of the major cinema platforms which could indeed attract readers, in particular readers of novels. Thus, reading has ceased to decline, and the tools used to maintain its level in the National Reading Development Program have been well selected. Attention should be paid to the role of public libraries in maintaining readership – the decline in readership in the second year of the pandemic corresponds to a decline in borrowing from public libraries. Libraries were closed in 2020-2021 due to national regulations or due to a local increase in infections. This limited access to books for less frequent buyers and could have led to a decline in readership. As libraries return to standard operation, interest in the book should increase. And that’s bad news because 38%. adult reading does not correspond to our aspirations for civilization. We want more people to read for pleasure, pursuing their own interests and pursuing their career aspirations. The development of the state and social well-being depend to a large extent on reading.

PAP: The slight increase in readership recorded in 2020 did not become the start of an upward trend…

Dr. Tomasz Makowski: You can see a big difference between the first and second year of the pandemic. Restrictions introduced, particularly homeschooling and remote working, in the first year of the pandemic resulted in slightly greater interest in reading. Due to the different organization of the day and the search for alternative activities, in the second year they brought noticeable fatigue, resulting from limited social contacts. The accompanying phenomena are the stress of long-term concern for the health of loved ones and loved ones, possible losses in the pandemic-constrained economy, and now – the fear of war and the anxiety resulting from the follow-up to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. One of the fundamental factors that influences both book reading and many other forms of cultural participation is the feeling of safety. You may also see less readiness for activity, even such as meeting family or friends at home or away, or a decision to walk or take a short trip. Both in the fall and in the spring, many Poles report their fatigue and the desire to go to bed earlier, as soon as they have free time for themselves.

When a few years ago, in various expert teams, we discussed the causes of non-reading and ways to overcome them, we jokingly considered the best, albeit extreme and unrealistic, way to prevent the decline in readership, we found the motivation to read to shut down the company at home for a year. Unexpectedly, this scenario came true during the COVID-19 pandemic. He brought noticeable results in the first year, not the second year.

Reading is an intimate activity, no one comes between us and the letters. But it is also a social activity. Reads where you see the readers. We imitate the behavior of others. If we see someone reading on a bus, tram or subway, we usually grab the book ourselves. Most events promoting reading and maintaining interest in reading have not taken place during the pandemic. At meetings with writers, literary picnics and other reading events, readers could not only see themselves, but also confront other readers. We see today the importance of these forms of encounter for maintaining reading. It is worth highlighting the activities of non-governmental organizations and libraries financially supported by the National Center for Culture and the Book Institute from the funds of the National Development Plan and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. We must remember that reading is not a natural need, after all, we are born illiterate. Someone has to teach us to read, we have to read the first book that will delight us or interest us enough that we want to reach for the next one, but also with age, changing expectations, needs, sensitivities and experience, we can find books that suit us. There is no average reader. We are different.

PAP: Why exactly don’t Poles read books? Even in the early 90s, we had over 70%. readers.

Dr. Tomasz Makowski: The main reason why reading is not read is that a large part of society does not associate reading with adulthood. Reading is learned primarily by example. If children do not see at least one adult reading in their environment, a parent, grandmother or grandfather, cousins ​​or friends from home, they will associate reading with school and stop reading. read when they are finished. Remember that young people read the most, and younger ones, brought up before the age of the Internet. Most seniors who cannot read say they never read outside of school. Thus, they did not use books in the period which, by general opinion, was full of readers, i.e. before 1989. The short-term increase in readership in the very early 90s resulted from the great opening of the publishing market, which provided a large number of previously absent titles, mainly attractive romance novels and crime novels translated from foreign languages. The fun, however, soon passed. There is a lot of harm in taking reading as a punishment. Unfortunately, the threat of cutting off the Internet, picking up the phone and locking the child in a room with a book, voiced by parents, is not uncommon. The child should not associate reading with punishment.

PAP: And if we already read, what publications do we use most often?

Dr. Tomasz Makowski: As in other countries – to popular and popular literature, that is, novels, novels and detective stories. In Poland we read religious literature more often than in other countries. We are now seeing an increase in interest in Ukraine and Russia.

PAP: How has the pandemic affected our reading habits?

Dr. Tomasz Makowski: It permanently influenced the increased use of Internet resources, including e-books. The site, with 3.5 million digitized objects, was under siege. I hope that the limitation of visits to libraries is temporary and that with the end of the pandemic, old readers will come back, and new readers will discover how pleasant a local library is to spend their free time and at what not the librarian is friendly. The public library is a place where you spend your free time, especially on Saturdays. Then the whole family can go to the library, borrow books for parents, grandparents and children, participate in reading activities or games. And also borrow books that grandparents can read to their grandchildren or grandchildren to grandparents. It’s a great way to spend time together and build family relationships.

PAP: What have book sales been like in Poland over the last twelve months? Have there been any new trends in this area?

Dr. Tomasz Makowski: A large part of the bookstores was functioning normally. Online sales have grown significantly as they are more convenient and secure. Another factor contributing to this growth has been the increased use of digital services. In the event of a pandemic, this process accelerated and forced changes in the behavior of book buyers, while publishers, distributors and booksellers who had not previously prepared an online offer had to quickly develop and implement it. at the risk of observing a drop in their income. A distinct trend is the much greater sale of e-books individually and by libraries.

Interviewed by Katarzyna Krzykowska (PAP)

Author: Katarzyna Krzykowska

ksi /skp/

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