The National Library Board's annual signature reading festival - Read! Fest - ran from June 22 to yesterday. This year's edition offered more than 150 programmes, from workshops and masterclasses to panels and talks. The festival brought to the foreground the often silent role that libraries play in the educational and intellectual life of the nation. Often considered to be remnants of a vanishing past, libraries are central to the cultural literacy of nations, and repositories of the reading habit that must continue to be encouraged, especially in today's digital and highly visual world.
Of course, people read - all the time. But in the digital age, much of that is in the quick bites of a news flash, a post online, or information retrieved after a search on the Internet. Such reading is often fleeting and transactional and, some would argue, for one-time use. The easy and speedy availability of information is handy, but involves little cognitive engagement and mental effort.