By Yoo Yeon Gyeong
Forty-five more "U-libraries" (ubiquitous libraries), unmanned facilities allowing people to borrow books at public places such as subway stations and welfare and community centers, will be made available to the public in 2023.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced on Feb. 20 that it will spend KRW 2.5 billion this year to install new U-libraries in 37 cities, counties and districts.
The U-library is a new concept: a high-tech facility with an automated, unmanned system for checking out and returning books at public places, including metro stations, and welfare and community centers, to promote reading among residents in their respective regions.
The ministry has pushed forward with this project since 2017. And thanks to its support last year, facilities were built at 43 locations in 35 cities, counties and districts, including the capital's Guro-gu District, bringing the total number of such libraries nationwide to 150.
Additional ministerial funding of KRW 1.9 billion will be offered to projects building realistic and creative spaces for media creation and experience halls in public libraries.
In 2022, 31 media creation spaces and eight realistic experience halls were built. The ministry’s funding will go to 17 other halls this year.
The ministry said, "We will provide organized support so that local residents can use public library services with convenience and proximity, regardless of time, and enjoy various cultural content created using cutting-edge technologies."