The public library of Rawandiz in the Kurdistan region was opened in 1965. It has more than 17,000 titles, but its shelves and reading tables are empty as an increasing number of children, teenagers, and youngsters use social media.
Primarily students and researchers are the only visitors, while most prefer to surf online for information.
A high schooler speaking to KurdSat News said, ‘ I prefer the library because it has many books and I can use them for my studies. I borrowed a book about learning the Korean languages, and I really benefited from the book.’
A bookkeeper in Rawandiz library explained, ‘burrowing books from the library is extraordinary. Our youngsters are somehow addicted to social media and the internet. Instead of spending their time on books.’
The majority of books written in Kurdish are available only in hard copy, and their soft copy is difficult to come by. First, because e-readers do not support the Kurdish alphabet and people have to read them on other electronic screens, it is tiring and boring, as most readers complain.
Those who possess the soft copies are the publishers, usually in PDF format, and they are not stored online but on unconnected drives due to lack of security.
Another reason is the lack of copyright laws in the Kurdistan region, where intellectual property could be stolen without consequences.
According to official data from Kurdistan regional government, the literacy rate in the region is close to 65%. Kurdistan region is well connected, with every corner of the Kurdistan region having access to the internet.
Kids are given smartphones and electronic devices to scroll on social media from a very young age, especially TikTok and YouTube. It usually keeps them away from books and other reliable sources of information.
As such, the region is vulnerable to disinformation and fake news. Many platforms on social media spread fake news and promote dangerous rightist or lefties ideas. Although reading books might not solve every issue in the region, it is a way to enlighten people to find reasonable solutions.