New library boasts admirable resources – but don’t expect to find too many books

by David Barber

“To read,” says Jim Flynn, Emeritus Professor of Politics at Otago University, “is to enter a magic realm in which people are more interesting, informed, amusing and intelligent than anyone you encounter in everyday life.”

It is a realm that half of New Zealand 15-year-olds never enter, according to the OECD’s latest Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa),  as reported by Radio NZ this week.

The survey reported that 52 per cent of students said they only read “if I have to””. Forty-three per cent said they do not read for enjoyment, 28 per cent never read non-fiction books and 18 per cent said they never read fiction.

It is not entirely a new situation.  Flynn made his bid to change it a decade ago with a book called The Torchlight List – Around the World in 200 Books. (Awa Press, 2010).

He wrote then that after more than half a century as a university lecturer one thing troubled him greatly. Continue reading “New library boasts admirable resources – but don’t expect to find too many books”