Books being 'screened out'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 February, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 February, 1996, 12:00am

COMPUTERS are already taking a central role in many people's lives, students included. But at a cost, say those who love books.

All those long hours spent in front of the computer screen leave people with little time to discover the pleasures of reading, they say.

'It is obvious that students are spending more time with their computers than with books,' said student Benny Poon Chun-yin of the Library Society of St Joseph's College.

'Computers have become the 'in' thing. Of course, this is the information age and we need the very latest data. With the computer, you just press a key and all the stuff you need flashes in front of you - information, pictures and even sound.' As a result, students are giving little time to the time-honoured pastime of reading, Benny lamented.

'The number of books taken out of the library has been dropping, especially with the growing popularity of the Internet. This is very disappointing.' In order to encourage the reading habit in students, the school's Library Society recently held a book exhibition, displaying over 2,000 books in English and Chinese.

The counters were spread with a wide range of titles, from textbooks and reference books to classical novels and popular radio and TV drama novelisations.

'Most Hong Kong students are not too enthusiastic about reading. We feel that an effective way to get them interested is through trendy stuff like novels based on Hong Kong radio dramas and Japanese TV serials.

'Unlike the classics, these kinds of stories are closer to our daily life. They are something we can identify with.' The Hong Kong student is not likely to be stirred much by, say, the turmoil in France 200 years ago during the French Revolution, Benny said.

'But he will get excited about developments in today's hi-tech scene.' Benny acknowledged the vital role computers will be playing in education from now on.

'The computer is a very exciting thing. You get all the information you want virtually instantly. You don't have to subscribe to magazines to know what's going on in the world. No question about it, the computer is the new and essential tool for learning,' Benny said.

'It is now an indispensable part of our everyday lives.

'Ironically, even people like us who work in a library and whose focus is books spend more time with the computers than with the books,' he said.