Original link: https://taiwan.chtsai.org/2023/08/30/yongxu_jiazhi/
Public libraries and public transportation across Taiwan have been greatly updated and improved in this century. It may not be perfect, but it has flipped the values of a generation.
I only “returned” to the public library after the new main library of the Kaohsiung Municipal Library opened nine years ago. Before that, the impression of the library was old, regardless of the environment or the collection. There are also some people who were harassed by weird people in the library when they were students, and never entered the library again.
Shuttle between the bookshelves, look at it at will, often a certain type of book or the title of a certain book triggers some memories and ideas in my mind. The library is full of these inspirational leads. While most information is available online, libraries serve higher-order needs.
Because I returned to the public library, and because the study room at home was already full, I stopped buying books less and less. For example, I borrowed the original novel from the popular TV series “The Defender of Bachimen” from the library.
The book publishing industry often complains that people don’t buy books, that society doesn’t read anymore. Having visited so many independent bookstores over a decade, I certainly understand the plight of the book market.
However, every copy of “The Defender of the Bachimen” in every branch library of the City Library is followed by a series of reservations and queues waiting to be borrowed. Compared with my own habit of borrowing books as much as possible and not buying books in the past few years, people no longer buy books because they don’t stop reading, they just don’t buy books.
I used to enjoy driving myself for a long time. I lived in rural America, a place where no car equals no feet. Back in Taiwan twenty-two years ago, Kaohsiung’s public transportation was terrible. I just kept on driving.
Sixteen years ago, Taiwan’s high-speed rail opened to traffic, which began to change my attitude towards public transportation. I took the high-speed train to the central and northern regions, and then what? I often have to transfer to Taiwan Railways, buses, and passenger transport, and even have to transfer several times before I reach my destination, whether it’s a meeting or a lecture.
Fifteen years ago, the Kaohsiung MRT opened to traffic. I brought back my experience of working and moving in other places, and actively tried to use public transportation locally. In the early years, there was no light rail in Kaohsiung, and the bus was still very primitive, not as convenient as it is now. But the most important thing is the transformation of values: use public transportation as much as you can.
Along the way, in addition to witnessing the evolution of public transportation in various places, he has also accumulated his own professional knowledge on public transportation and established his own unique perspective on public transportation.
Changes in values and behaviors are gradual. In the past two years or so, I suddenly realized: my current ten-year-old domestic car will probably be the last car in my life. After that it was impossible for me to buy a car again. In the past ten years, I have driven less and less, and in the first half of this year, I even drove less than 600 kilometers.
The book publishing industry uses a lot of paper and overpublishes, which is not sustainable. Digital technology has made the reading and writing of words less dependent on paper, and the world has come to an era where sustainability must be urgently practiced. In the long run, the production and consumption of paper books will gradually decline. From the perspective of readers, it is also a sustainable practice to borrow books from public libraries instead of buying books.
Public transportation itself is the practice of sustainable transportation. As public transportation improves, and people become more self-confident and less need to identify themselves with cars, fewer people will buy cars like people buy books. Ultimately the auto sales business, new or used, will go down like the book publishing business, and it won’t be reversed. This will not happen immediately, but it is an inevitable trend.
Further Reading: Libraries
- Nostalgia for Paper Books
- library and me
- The New Value of Libraries
- MUJI BOOKS: A Big World in a Small Bookstore
- Challenges and opportunities for independent bookstores
Further reading: public transportation
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