As people practice social distancing, Seoul Library's e-books gain popularity - Korea Times
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As people practice social distancing, Seoul Library's e-books gain popularity

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Seoul Library offers e-books in English. /Screen capture from
Seoul Library offers e-books in English. /Screen capture from

By Kim Se-jeong

As social distancing becomes the new norm amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Seoul Metropolitan Library is offering free e-books and audiobooks to entertain people at home.

The library's e-book section has 11,000 books including 600 in English. Titles include the complete "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rolling; the "Game of Thrones" series by George R.R. Martin; "Me Before You" a novel by Jojo Moyers and others.

When it comes to audiobooks, the library has a total of 150 titles in stock. It's not necessary to download the audiobooks as they can be streamed. The list of titles available includes "The Vegetarian" and "A Boy Comes" by International Booker Prize winner Han Kang and books by other prominent Korean writers. No English audiobooks are available.

E-book and audiobook services are available for library members. The membership application process can be completed online, though applicants not proficient in Korean will need the assistance of a Korean speaker. For more information, visit

The new coronavirus pandemic has pushed all public libraries in the city to close for more than a month. Along with the Seoul Library, which is run by the city government, other libraries that are run by district offices and the city's education office are also closed. The libraries will not reopen until April 5.

The Seoul Library opened in 2012 at its current location, which formerly served as the city hall building.

Prior to that the library never had its own building. For years, it was located in the city hall's branch building near Deoksu Palace. It has more than 454,000 books, DVDs, audio files and other items, and is the only library run by the Seoul city government.

The library building, built by the Japanese in 1926, is registered as one of the country's historic monuments. Despite renovations, the building has been kept mostly intact and opened to visitors. The building's roof has a cafe and a small garden with a view toward the city center of the capital.

Kim Se-jeong

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