Rethink needed on location and short opening hours of HK's public libraries

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2011, 12:00am


I have always understood that governments structure their public library policy in order to promote citizens' reading habits, particularly young children.

However, I am always amazed at how the Hong Kong government has presented public libraries to us.

Its bizarre choice of locations and opening hours have undoubtedly resulted in these places being less appealing and less user-friendly.

Often, if you want to visit a public library, you will find it is in one of those complexes which also houses a food market.

It may be that the reason is to make the management of both facilities easier, by having them in the same building, but I think it is ridiculous.

It creates an uncomfortable atmosphere and reduces the number of people who want to go there to read books.

This undermines the purpose of the library, which is to encourage more people to read.

Our libraries should be located in more pleasant locations. Overseas, you often find them, for example, near a park with views of greenery.

This creates a far better reading environment for users.

I also think that the opening hours of Hong Kong's libraries are too short and this is very inconvenient.

According to the latest pamphlets issued by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, none of our branches are open for longer than 11 hours, and most of them usually open for about seven hours.

The smaller branches also close for one day a week and nearly all of them are shut on major public holidays such as New Year's Day and Christmas Day.

Given that opening hours vary from branch to branch, this can be very confusing for users.

Some people would only be able to visit their library early or later in the day or on a public holiday, but find that they are shut.

With such short opening hours, this is a waste of resources.

I would strongly urge the government to think again about this policy and extend opening hours.

The administration should look at these issues and should be finding ways to encourage people to read a lot more.

Jason Fee, Mid-Levels