A university librarian, Dr Femi Oguntuase, has said that encouraging the culture of reading among the younger generation will help curb the current wave of crime, corruption, conflict and other social vices in the society.

Delivering a paper titled ‘Reading as a Dying Culture in a Digital Age’ as part of the opening ceremonies of the first FUOYE book fair, organized by the University Library, he said some notable books such as Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie, A Man of the People and Trouble with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe and Oil on Water by Helon Habila, among others, have strong bearing on the socio-political development and needs of the people.

Quoting Jesse Lee Bennett, he went on to say that “Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life”. Dr Oguntuase maintained that reading is not only stimulating to the mind and soul, but also is the key to national re-orientation and re-awakening.

He decried what he referred to as a dying reading culture in Nigeria which he attributed to low literacy rate, falling academic standard, high cost of books, poverty, and distraction from home video as well as poor funding of public libraries. According to him, a greater influence to the dying reading culture is the growing adoption of digital formats as the default method of communication, information and publishing.

Dr Oguntuase, University Librarian, Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, however, acknowledged the many attractions of e-books such as convenience, portability, ease and quick access to information.

He was resolute in his submissions that no matter the advantages e-books might have over the print, when the issue of harmful light rays transmitted from the screen of a computer comes into question, these advantages pale into insignificance. According to him, printed materials are stable and tangible. They ensure focused and reflective reading; aiding recall and sparing the reader of data overload as against e-books which he said are ephemeral, tiring and boring. It even depends on links and keyboards with attendant multi-media distractions. Worst still, it poses great danger to human sight.

  “The key to the future in the knowledge economy is to foster a creative and dynamic reading culture in an age of digital abundance” through a balanced attitude that places printed books and digital formats in their proper perspectives.

Dr Oguntuase commended FUOYE for organizing the book fair, which he described as a  strategy for promoting the use of books and developing the book industry.

Earlier in his opening address, the Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Prof. Isaac Asuzu encouraged students to develop the habit of reading, not just to pass exams but also to widen their scope of knowledge in topics of general concern.

Finally, the Vice Chancellor, Ag Registrar, the University Librarian, other officers of the university and students as well as visitors to book fair were conducted round the book stands. Brisk purchases of books of interests spanning various disciplines were made. The book fair, which ran from March 10-14, attracted publishers and book vendors from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo and Ekiti States.