MADRID, April 21 (Xinhua) -- The Spanish National Library has to be at the forefront of a concerted effort to persuade people of the value of reading books, Miguel Albero, the Cultural Director of the Spanish National Library, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview to celebrate World Book Day.
Albero explained that the internet and social media meant people are probably reading more than they ever have done in history, but with one important difference.
"People have never read in such little depth and the relationship between the writer and the reader has changed. There used to be a series of filters; the publisher, the critic and even the bookseller, but now that distillation doesn't happen," Albero told Xinhua.
"Many people can now publish their own work, but it is much harder to know what to value and what not to value," he said, explaining that the immediacy of social media is at the heart of this change.
"There is a lack of attention: people are more capable of relating with each other, but at the same time, much less able to read in depth. For example, if you want to read Nietzsche it's not much use reading a 'tweet', you have to sit down and spend hours to understand what he is speaking about," he continued.
Albero believes that although society is changing at an ever-increasing rate, it is vital to possess the building blocks of knowledge in order to understand the changes.
"You need to study mathematics, Latin, Greek... I think that there days there are many university courses which lack substance. I studied things which helped organize your mind and helped you to think. You can then learn practical things quickly," he commented.
The Spanish National Library is the holder of Spain's cultural patrimony with over 40 million books and papers stored there and that number increases by 70,000 works a year because it receives a copy of everything (book, newspaper, magazine, or even song lyric) that is published in the country.
The task at hand is to open the doors of that vast collection to the public, who at the end of the day are the owners of this vast source of knowledge.
"People have the idea we are just a place for investigation so we have to be able to tell them that what happens here is important."
"We need to remind people what reading a book is like and the work we do in the National Library museum is very important... People can see how there is a history of reading and that books preserve a cultural tradition," explained Albero, who made one final appeal for people to once again begin turning the pages.
"Literature will help you with everything that can arise in life and someone who doesn't enter into the world of literature will miss out of something wonderful", he concluded.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated April 23 as World Book Day in 1995 to pay tribute to books and authors and to encourage people to discover the pleasure of reading.