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Big library idea comes from small children

By Huang Zhiling | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-05 07:18

Construction of the world's first panda-themed library is expected to start early next year at a primary school in Chengdu, Sichuan province, with the facility expected to open about six months later.

"People worldwide will have free access to it online," said Zhang Mingrong, headmistress of the Chengdu Panda Road Primary School.

The school has a three-story building, the second floor of which currently serves as a convention center. It will be turned into a studio for videos about pandas. The third floor, currently a library, will be designed with five boat-shaped sections symbolizing swimming in the sea of knowledge.

"Each section symbolizes a continent. The five sections will house publications and audiovisual materials about pandas from Asia, Europe, America, Africa and Oceania," Zhang said.

The school is asking for donations of books, literary works and audiovisual information about pandas from different parts of the world.

The idea to build the 1,000-square-meter library on the school's second and third floors started with third-grade students. When the new semester started in February, they studied a book about cute animals in their Chinese class. They were asked to write a composition about their favorite animals after finishing their reading.

"Some students said they liked the giant panda best but didn't know enough about it-even though they had visited the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding," Zhang said. "They came up with the idea for a library with publications and audiovisual products about pandas."

Located on the same road as the panda base, the school is China's only one named after the giant panda, said Li Jie, a base information officer.

Staff members from the base have given lectures on pandas at the school, and students served as guides at the base in January for 15 UN designees from 14 countries-the United Nations Panda Champions for the Global Goals.

The group stayed in Chengdu for five days after winning an online contest co-sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme and the base.

Patrick Haverman, deputy country director for the program, said pandas symbolize the plight of the world's diminishing wildlife in the face of climate change and loss of natural habitat.

He praised the students who initiated the panda-themed library idea.

When a person gains knowledge about pandas, what follows is greater awareness of nature and the environment, and the need for preservation, Haverman said.

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