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Malaysia sees rise in demand for digital books during lockdown

The demand for e-books from the National Library of Malaysia (PNM)’s digital collection has soared since the beginning of the Movement Control Order (MCO) on 18 March 2020.

The Senior Deputy Director at PNM Library System and Network Division stated in March alone nearly 40,000 of the library’s digital books were borrowed compared to an average of about 15,000 during the regular months.

The new membership registration for u-Pustaka and visitors to the library portal has increased dramatically during the MCO.

Membership registration and portal visitors’ statistics showed an increase during the current MCO. As of April 21, 2020, the cumulative number of u-Pustaka members is 501,295.

During the MCO alone, membership registration reached 22,982 members. The highest membership registration was at the beginning of the MCO reaching 6,069 registrations in one day (19 March).

Meanwhile, it was noted that the selection of reading material is varied, depending on interests and information requirements needed but during the MCO, borrowing of e-books was more to fiction-based reading materials.

PNM is constantly trying to make digital reading material more accessible to Malaysians. Among the initiatives undertaken is to increase the number of digital reading material every year.

In addition, PNM via the u-Pustaka as a national information hub has successfully digitized 1.7 million pages of local reading material such as Malay manuscripts, rare books as well as national collections that can be accessed through the u-Pustaka portal.

PNM is working to attract more Malaysians to use the services provided by u-Pustaka. To achieve this, they welcome the involvement of libraries in Malaysia to jointly promote the use of u-Pustaka services among society.

Malaysia aims to develop a restructured economy based on high-value knowledge at all levels of society. Through u-Pustaka, the library provides a wealth of information suitable for all ages and on a broad range of subjects and accessible everywhere by Malaysians.

Tourism Ministry to offer free online course for tourist guides

Malaysians are being offered educational materials in various ways.

For example, another report noted that The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) will offer a free online course to all tourist guides who intend to renew their licences.

Director-General of Tourism Malaysia stated that the short-term course would involve steps and plans that could be taken by the tourist guides to promote tourism services under the new normal following the Covid-19 pandemic.

For example, over the course, students will learn to produce teaser videos on their platform, including on social media, by using their expertise in telling stories about their tourist attractions to encourage tourists to visit those places once the movement control order (MCO) is lifted or, at least, relaxed.

However, the mechanism for the course and when it will begin have yet to be decided as it involved various parties, including the Tourism Training Institute and tour guide association.

Meanwhile, the competition to produce a tourism video with the hashtag #dreamnowtraveltomorrow would be extended until May 12 following good response from the public during the MCO period.

Support for tech start-ups

A large portion of the solutions being released that are helping people cope through the uncertainty brought about by the lockdown.

Thus, support for them is being arranged by the government. Future Digital, the think tank arm of the National Tech Association of Malaysia (Pikom) believes that the proposed RM250 billion Second Stimulus Package announced by the Malaysian Government to cushion the negative impact of COVID-19 should also cover the local technology startup community.

The Chairman of Future Digital stated that Future Digital is an independent and inclusive voice not only to the industry but also to the government on policy and programmes.

He added that, if assistance were not rendered to the local startup community, some 40% per cent of startups and social enterprises are expected to fold from June this year.

The Chairman of PIKOM stated that by helping these companies through the above measures, it would ease the burden of employers for them to sustain their business.

This ecosystem needs to survive through this difficult period so that it can continue employing while flourishing as a strategic engine of growth for Malaysia.

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