320,000 Indonesians and Filipinos live in Hong Kong, the city’s biggest minorities. Yet a HK Helpers Campaign investigation found that they have only 60 books available to share in their respective languages across the entire library system. The Op-ed below responds to an SCMP story and reports on efforts by domestic workers to set up their own libraries. Support the campaign and their 3 simple, winnable campaign points.
A South China Morning Post article last week reported Hong Kong people are falling out of love with city libraries. The rampant usage of smartphones was cited for the decline in book rentals. Library officials lamented the decreasing figures and commentators criticised the cities reading culture, which has been ‘in decline for years’. On the other hand, domestic workers have been busy setting up unofficial mobile libraries across the city because the Hong Kong libraries don’t cater for their needs.
Since 2009, the department has expanded its library collection from 12.5 million books and multimedia materials to 13.1 million. Yet, the number of books rented fell 6.2 million over the past five years, from 61.7 million in 2009 to 55.5 million last year. A spokesperson for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which manages the public libraries told the SCMP that “professional judgement was exercised in the acquisition of books to meet the different needs of various groups, including ethnic minorities”, and the collections remained “highly popular among readers”.