Without time for reading?

Carmen Rodriguez

escambray today, book fair, reading, libraries, bookstores, ruben martinez villena provincial library, habit of reading
The book fair continues to be the largest cultural event in the country. (Photo: Vicente Brito / Escambray)

Although for the so-called library rats the pleasure of reading is still an unequalled option, current generations prefer to see audiovisuals and read texts in digital support.

Many people consider that nowadays almost no one reads, that is why Escambray explored on how much local residents are used to reading,  a habit that normally begins and develops from the stories that our parents read to us when we are kids.


Rubén Martínez Villena Library, a Palace for Books

In a visit to the Rubén Martínez Villena Provincial Library, we were able to know that locals don’t go very often to that place anymore. According to statistics, the hundreds of thousands of readers who used to request the services of the library in a one-year period, in 1916 were only about 54 000.

“At present moment women mostly search for romantic novels, while the rest of the readers prefer Cuban police stories. People don’t read contemporary universal literature, except for those who want a specific author. Most of our readers are older persons, and the young ones come here just for homework consultations”, said Janay Duque de Estrada, a specialist at the library’s literature room.

The book policy established in Cuba concentrates the efforts of the publishing houses to make massive publications for the International Book Fair, so the bookstore networks mostly get the books that were not sold during the fair, while public libraries are distributed just a few of those books.

Lilia Rosa Oliva Prieto, director of the library, complains for the shortage of bibliography because of the absence of an editorial policy that protects the services of kind of institutions. “It’s true that almost all the population goes to the book fair, but not everyone can pay certain prices, instead, the majority of the people can read those books here in the library. Local cultural authorities agree that the library should purchase all the books sold in the fair, but the policy of the Institute differs from that desire”, she added.

Other members of the library’s staff consider that the decrease of readers might be due to several other factors, including the existence of obsolete collections. It is no coincidence that a large proportion of the most inveterate readers buy books from private sellers.

The people that still visit libraries agree that politics-related books are the most demanded, while the workers of these centers miss the presence of texts on universal literature, most of which have not been re-edited for a long time.

While it is true that current generations have lost the taste in books, the fact that Cubans have always been readers par excellence cannot be denied.

I do not have time for reading is one of the most recurrent pretexts, but it’s not the only one. So, it is necessary to continue looking for alternatives to encourage the habit of reading in the younger ones in front of an educational system that does not quite favor it.


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