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Community libraries get public back into books

By HE QI in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-03 09:19
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Following the launch of the first "City Library" urban reading spaces in Minhang district, Shanghai, on April 23, 2017, during World Book and Copyright Day, more libraries have since been established to meet the growing demand for neighborhood reading spaces.

A total of 30 of these libraries have opened across Minhang, with 15 of them opening last year. The volunteer-run community libraries serve more than 280,000 people annually, and can be found across industrial parks, office buildings, shopping malls and urban parks in the district.

A typical library is stocked with between 5,000 and 8,000 books, according to local officials.

"There is no standard for the number and types of books in these libraries. Each library selects books according to its characteristic positioning," said Wu Linyi, an official with the public service department of Minhang's culture and tourism bureau.

The library in the town of Zhuanqiao, located in an industrial park, combines the characteristics of the adjacent Wu Yiren Art Museum and integrates calligraphy and other art elements in its design.

"The library holds various reading activities for all ages, and creates new spaces for knowledge and cultural exchange," said Jia Yingying, head of the cultural and sports affairs office of Zhuanqiao Town Cultural and Sports Center.

"The project's aim is to build beautiful and practical public spaces and to encourage more people to discover the joy of reading," Chen Yujian, Party chief of Minhang, said during Shanghai's annual two sessions last year.

"We hope residents can enjoy the public spaces full of knowledge and warmth, and let reading become a daily habit and lifelong pursuit," Chen added.

"In recent years, there's been a trend toward younger readers in the libraries," said Wu. "More and more young and middle-aged people, white-collar workers and families come to the city libraries to enjoy the neighborhood reading spaces."

Most city libraries were originally to be open 24 hours, but due to the epidemic the opening hours were adjusted to from 9 am to 9 pm.

"We hope to be able to attract more volunteers to get involved with our library services, and encourage more people to get reading," Wu said.

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