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Creation of a Book-lovers’ Paradise! The County Government Seeks Ideas on Developing Kinmen as An Island of Reading

Creation of a Book-lovers’ Paradise! The County Government Seeks Ideas on Developing Kinmen as An Island of Reading
March 25, 2017
Reporter: Wong Wei-Jhih / County Government

Regarding plans to promote Kinmen as an island of reading, Magistrate Chen Fu-Hai said, “As long as it is right, why not do it?” In ancient times, there were many intellectuals who lived in Kinmen and nearly 50 imperial exam candidates (Jinshi) originated here during the Ming and Qing dynasties. But now, Kinmen ranks last among the five-star counties in terms of readership rate. The figure is thought-provoking and should alert our attention.
Promoting this project has always been the most important policy in Magistrate Chen’s vision for the past two years. As long as it is sustainable for 30, 50 or 100 years, it is Chen’s hope that relevant departments would pursue this endeavor. As long as it is right, Chen is willing to give his all-out support in terms of both budget and policy. He promised he would get around any problem even if the proposal is not viable policy-wise.
The Kinmen County Government convened a Promotion Policy Committee Meeting yesterday for the “Kinmen: Island of Reading Promotion Project”. The meeting was hosted by Chairman Chen Fu-Hai, and the participants included the Director-general of Cultural Affairs Bureau Lu Kun-Ho who served as the deputy commissioner of the Committee, Director of the Magistrate’s Office Chen Jin-Wun, Director-general of General Affairs Department Chen Jin-Zeng, Director-general of Accounting and Statistics Department Wu Cai-Long, Director-general of Department of Education Li Wun-Liang, Deputy Director-general of Cultural Affairs Bureau Huang Ya-Fen ,Chief of Information Management Division He Guei-Cyuan, Division Chief in Department of Education Syu Neng-Li and representatives of Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Inc.
The meeting started with the awarding of letters of appointment to six committee members; they are Director-general of National Central Library Tseng Shu-Hsien, Taiwan Fun Reading Association Chairman Jhuang Shang-Wei, Taiwan Media Watch Foundation Chairman Lai Ding-Ming, Associate Professor Lee Hsi-Chieh of National Quemoy University, Senior Executive of County Government Li Si-Long, and Secretary Chen Cin-Jin. This was followed by a discussion and confirmation of certain issues such as the “Promotion Project Policy”, planning and budget, participating unit and division of labor, priorities regarding project content, etc.
With regard to planning and policy-making, the Cultural Affairs Bureau pointed out that the project was created due to Magistrate Chen’s vision of cultivating a reading culture with the help of everyone in the committee in order to build and transform Kinmen into a book-lovers’ island that promotes reading as well as the aboriginal culture along the coast of Kinmen. The Bureau also emphasized that there is a three-stage plan to promote cultural and reading activities in five years, with a comprehensive and systematic implementation of the “Kinmen: Island of Reading Promotion Project”, which aims to transform the island into a heaven for people who love to read.
In the meeting, the former president of Shih Hsin University and chairman of Taiwan Media Watch Foundation, Mr. Lai Ding-Ming gave a presentation on “the Charms of Kinmen” and offered suggestions on the “Kinmen: Island of Reading Promotion Project”. He acknowledged the efforts and hard work of Magistrate Chen in cultivating a reading culture, and stressed the importance of emphasizing the charms and attractions of Kinmen. To highlight the uniqueness of Kinmen compared to other counties, he suggested the creation of libraries where war literature, wine culture, Taiwanese culture and ecological information are made available to the public.
He also urged the formation of reading circles, which is the most effective and useful way to cultivate reading. He suggested that the Magistrate could initiate and organize reading circles in the county government and share information on the Internet. He added that experts might also be invited to conduct training in Kinmen for teachers of reading circles. Moreover, all units and schools are encouraged to organize reading circles and book appreciation meetings. People with outstanding performance should be given incentives. In terms of strategy, he pointed out that libraries should not just be a collection of books but should also include all forms of media. Promoting the “reading corner” and “human library” is a good idea. He believes that gathering external resources, such as famous scholars’ literary works, is also helpful; together with Kinmen’s own charms these can attract people’s attention.
Director-general Tseng Shu-Hsien of National Central Library suggested that before launching the Kinmen: Island of Reading project, there is a need for vision formation first. Based on her observations, the promotion of Kinmen as an island of reading lacks the necessary marketing plan and slogan. She compared the current situation of the county with that of several counties and cities in Taiwan. She stated that in 2016, every person in Taiwan borrowed an average of 3 books and had gone to the library 3 times every year. As for Kinmen, it is still uncertain how far these figures can be improved. However, the book borrowing rate in Kinmen increased by 15.38% last year, putting the county in sixth place among all counties and cities. It is obvious that the county government has been working hard on cultivating a reading culture and its efforts have made a big progress.
She added that elementary schools and junior high schools play a critical role in promoting the Island of Reading project. “We have to gather all the schools and help them create a better reading environment and atmosphere,” she said. She also hopes to launch a “Reading Festival” through cross-strait cooperation, inviting more participants to promote the county’s special “Reading Corners” in order to extend and scatter spots of reading.
Associate Professor Lee Hsi-Chieh of National Quemoy University offered five suggestions which include increasing and maximizing the use of e-books, promoting interlibrary cooperation, establishing an incentive mechanism in combination with the County Resident Card system, promoting a culture of reading in campuses while cultivating good reading habits from childhood, and integrating a comprehensive book borrowing and return system.
Senior Executive Li Si-Long expressed favorable comments regarding the promotion direction of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, as well as other relevant programs and initiatives. However, he found the 5-year plan to be quite long and said that it is better to expedite plans to attract the attention of more people. He proposed that it might be feasible to reorganize the library structure, making it an independent unit. He also recommended the purchase of new books should be exempted from the Government Procurement Act, so as to make libraries more attractive.
The chairman of the Taiwan Fun Reading Association Mr. Jhuang Shang-Wei offered support for the idea of setting up “Reading Festival” and “Reading Corner” bookcase. The Association is well experienced in this bookcase design, and would be pleased to provide any help needed for promoting Kinmen as an island of reading. He also expressed that reading is a lifestyle and a culture. He suggested that horizontal links and implementation across all departments are the most important.
According to Director-general Lu Kun-Ho of Cultural Affairs Bureau, Kinmen has the weakest book borrowing rate and library space among all counties and cities in Taiwan. Hence, the Cultural Affairs Bureau has started making improvement in these two areas. Employees are asked to borrow at least 2 books per month in hopes of encouraging everyone to read and promote cultural competitiveness of the county.
Chen Fu-Hai ended the meeting with a quote, “Reading a good book is like talking to a noble person, which is an experience of a lifetime. Thank all the committee members for coming to join us. Let us work together to transform Kinmen into an island of reading, characterized by great enthusiasm and energy!”

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  • Date:2017-11-30