Authors angered by Vienna’s 800,000 book axe

Writers are outraged by news that Vienna’s libraries plan to get rid of hundreds of thousands of books.The IG Autoren, a group of authors, said in an open letter published today (Fri) it feared that the libraries will ban less popular works “which do not match the mainstream of the bestseller literature business.”A spokesman for libraries in the Austrian capital rejected the accusations, saying that it was a “natural thing” for libraries to make space for new publications once in a while.Up to 800,000 books will be removed from the shelves in the coming 10 years as part of the initiative.There are 39 libraries in Vienna. The largest and most popular one is situated in Neubau district at the busy Gürtel road near the Westbahnhof train station. The institutions also offer newspapers, DVDs and free internet access at their facilities.A study by the Institute for Leisure Time and Tourism Research (IFT) showed last month that four in 10 Austrians “regularly” read books.Linz-based pollster Market found in February that 35 per cent of Austrian men enjoy gathering information online more than reading a book. Only 23 per cent of women living in the country said the same, according to the agency.Political leaders and education experts in Austria have been engaged in an intense debate over how the country’s school system could be improved after an international assessment highlighted pupils’ poor reading skills.Austria came 31st among 34 participating countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) most recent worldwide evaluation of 15-year-old school pupils’ reading skills, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).