Libraries in China

The first libraries in China came into being during the time of the Shang dynasty (the sixteenth to eleventh centuries B.C.) as intellectuals known as the Shi (historians) and Wu (diviners) emerged from manual labor to special occupations for the creation and spread of culture. Among the documents that these occupations managed were "the country's statute books, genealogies of imperial kinsmen, issued notices and orders, and recorded important events and natural phenomena. For future verification and reference, they built storehouses to keep records in different media. To meet the needs of more and more complicated affairs and to ensure easy use, they began to collect and sort out those records according to chronological order and category. Thus, the earliest library in China came into being. The numerous kinds of media loaded with information and knowledge emerged in human society, resulting in the concepts of preservation and collection. Accordingly, the earliest libraries and archives were the result of conscious collection, process, coalition, and utilization."[1]

Early in the history of China, scholars had extensive private libraries, and all of the imperial dynasties constructed libraries and archives to house literary treasures and official records. The first modern libraries, however, did not appear in China until the late nineteenth century; even then, library service grew slowly and sporadically. In 1949 there were only fifty-five public libraries at the county level and above, most concentrated in major coastal commercial centers.

Following the founding of the People's Republic, government and education leaders strove to develop library services and make them available throughout the country. The National Book Coordination Act of 1957 authorized the establishment of two national library centers, one in Beijing (National Library of China) and the other in Shanghai (Shanghai Library), and nine regional library networks. Even so, libraries still were scarce, and those facilities that were available were cramped and offered only rudimentary services. Seeing the lack of libraries as a major impediment to modernization efforts, government leaders in the early 1980s took special interest in the development of library services. The special concentration of funds and talent began to produce significant results. More than forty Chinese institutions of higher learning also had established library science or information science departments. There were more than 2,300 public libraries at the county level and above, containing nearly 256 million volumes, and below the county level some 53,000 cultural centers included a small library or reading room.

At the end of 2004, China had 2,710 public libraries with a collection of over 400 million copies. There were 2,925 public libraries in China in 2011.[2] Of the university or college libraries, the collections of Peking University and Zhejiang University libraries lead the nation.[3][4] The national library network also includes scientific research institution libraries, trade union libraries, plus libraries and reading rooms attached to government institutions, army units, primary and secondary schools, townships, enterprises and local communities.

National Library

The country's main library, the National Library of China,[5] housed a rich collection of books, periodicals, newspapers, maps, prints, photographs, manuscripts, microforms, tape recordings, and inscriptions on bronze, stone, bones, and tortoiseshells.

The National Library of China, with a collection of over 26 million volumes, is the largest library in Asia, housing the largest collection of Chinese books in the world. In the library's collection are over 35,000 oracle bones and tortoise shells carved with ancient Chinese characters, 1.6 million volumes of traditional thread-bound books, over 16,000 volumes of documents from Dunhuang Grottoes, 12 million volumes of foreign-language books, and dozens of electronic databases.

The library started to accept the submissions of official national publications in 1916, becoming the main national database; and began to accept submissions of domestic electronic publications in 1987. It is also the country's ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) Center and Network Information Center. At present, the National Library of China has formed a digital library alliance with some 90 other libraries around the country, making joint efforts in promoting the development and application of China's digital public information service. The second phase of the National Library – China Digital Library, whose foundation was laid at the end of 2004, is planned to be completed and commissioned in October 2007. The expanded library will be able to meet book storage demand for the next 30 years. The Digital Library will make it the world's biggest Chinese literature collection center and digital resources base, as well as the most advanced network service base in China.

Other Libraries

The Shanghai Municipal Library, one of the largest public libraries in the country, contained over 7 million volumes, nearly 1 million of which were in foreign languages. The Shanghai Library, well known at home and abroad, is China's largest provincial-level library. Of its collection, the over 1.7 million volumes of ancient documents are the most valuable and representative, including 25,000 titles of rare ancient books in 178,000 volumes, many being the only copies extant in the world. The oldest document dates back nearly 1,500 years.

The Peking University Library took over the collections of the Yanjing University Library in 1950 and by the mid-1980s – with more than 3 million volumes, one-fourth of them in foreign languages – was one of the best university libraries in the country. It is one of the earliest modern new libraries in China. Approved by the State Council as the first batch of national key ancient books protection unit, has developed into a resource rich, modern, comprehensive, open research library.[6]

Major provincial libraries

  • Anhui Library 安徽省图书馆
  • Capital Library (zh:首都图书馆) in Beijing
  • Chongqing Library 重庆市图书馆
  • Fujian Library 福建省图书馆
  • Gansu Library 甘肃省图书馆
  • Guangdong Library 广东省图书馆
  • Guangxi Autonomous Region Library 广西自治区图书馆
  • Guizhou Library 贵州省图书馆
  • Hainan Library 海南省图书馆
  • Hebei Library 河北省图书馆
  • Heilongjiang Library 黑龙江省图书馆
  • Henan Library 河南图书馆
  • Hubei Provincial Library 湖北省图书馆
  • Hunan Library 湖南省图书馆
  • Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Library 内蒙古自治区图书馆
  • Jiangxi Library 江西省图书馆
  • Jilin Library 吉林省图书馆
  • Liaoning Library 辽宁省图书馆
  • Nanjing Library 南京圖書館
  • Ningxia Autonomous Region Library 宁夏自治區图书馆
  • Qinghai Library 青海省图书馆
  • Shaanxi Library 陕西省图书馆
  • Shandong Library 山东省图书馆
  • Shanghai Library 上海市图书馆
  • Shanxi Library 山西省图书馆
  • Sichuan Library 四川省图书馆
  • Tianjin Library 天津市图书馆
  • Tibet Autonomous Region Library 西藏自治区图书馆
  • Xinjiang Autonomous Region Library 新疆自治区图书馆
  • Yunnan Library 云南省图书馆
  • Zhejiang Library 浙江省图书馆

See also


  1. ^ Hua, Xie Zhuo (1996). Libraries and the development of culture in China. "Libraries & Culture", No. 3/4, pp. 533.
  2. ^ "Statistical Communiqué on the 2011 National Economic and Social Development". National Bureau of Statistics of China. 22 February 2012. Archived from the original on 6 August 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  3. ^ PKU Library Archived 24 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ ZJU Library Archived 13 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Official site of the National Library of China. Users can search database of books, periodicals, and statistical yearbooks.
  6. ^ (2017). Overview and History | Beijing University Library. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website[1]

External links

Belvedere of Literary Profundity

The Belvedere of Literary Profundity (simplified Chinese: 文渊阁; traditional Chinese: 文淵閣; pinyin: Wényuān Gé; Wade–Giles: Wen-yuan Ko), Wenyuan Ge or Wenyuan Library is a palace building in the Forbidden City in Beijing.The hall was an imperial library, and a place for learned discussion, thus some Grand Secretaries were assigned to there. It was sited to the east of the Fengtian Gate in Nanjing, during the Hongwu era. After the Yongle Emperor made Beijing China's capital, its name continued to be used for the lobby in the east of the Cabinet Hall of the Forbidden City, which was burnt down in the late Ming.The existing hall which is patterned on the Tianyi Ge in Ningbo was rebuilt behind the Wenhua Palace, in the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. Completed in 1776, it was a kind of library and stored numerous works, including a copy of the Siku Quanshu. The Wenjin Ge in the Chengde Mountain Resort is its counterpart.

Bibliotheca Zi-Ka-Wei

The Shanghai Library Bibliotheca Zi-Ka-Wei (simplified Chinese: 上海图书馆徐家汇藏书楼; traditional Chinese: 上海圖書館徐家匯藏書樓; pinyin: Shànghǎi Túshūguǎn Xújiāhuì Cángshū Lóu), also known as the Bibliotheque de Mission, is the first modern library to be established in Shanghai, China. Located in the Xujiahui area in Xuhui District, it first opened in 1847. It is a part of the Shanghai Library system.

Guangzhou Library

Guangzhou Library (Chinese: 广州图书馆) is a public library in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, China.

The library has just moved to a new building in Zhujiang New Town, which fully opened on 23 June 2013.

The old building in Zhongshan Road has been closed since 1 April 2013.

Hainan Library

The Hainan Library (Chinese: 海南省图书馆; pinyin: Hǎinán Shěng Túshūguǎn) is located in the Hainan Cultural Park at 36 Guoxing Avenue, Haikou, Hainan, China. It was established on February 2, 2007.

The facility is one of three large, public works projects constructed around the same time on Guoxing Avenue alongside one another, the others being Hainan Museum and Hainan Centre for the Performing Arts.

List of libraries in Hong Kong

This is a list of libraries in Hong Kong.

Macao Public Library

The Macao Public Library (Portuguese: Biblioteca Pública de Macau; Chinese: 澳門公共圖書館) is the public library system of Macau. The head office is on the ground floor of the old building of the Sir Robert Ho Tung Library in São Lourenço (Saint Lawrence Parish).

National Library of China

The National Library of China (simplified Chinese: 中国国家图书馆; traditional Chinese: 中國國家圖書館; pinyin: Zhōngguó Guójiā Túshūguǎn) or NLC in Beijing is the national library of the People's Republic of China. With a collection of over 37 million items, it is the largest library in Asia and one of the largest in the world. It holds the largest collections of Chinese literature and historical documents in the world.The forerunner of the National Library of China, the Imperial Library of Peking (京师图书馆; Jīngshī Túshūguǎn), was founded on 9 September 1909 by the government of the Qing dynasty. It was first formally opened after the Xinhai Revolution, in 1912. In 1916, the library received depository library status. In July 1928, its name was changed to National Peiping Library and was later changed to the National Library.

Palace Library

A Palace Library was a central government agency in imperial China and dynastic Korea, generally in charge of maintaining and archiving the collection of the monarch's documents.

Peking University Library

The Peking University Library is the library of Peking University in Beijing.

Shanghai Library

The Shanghai Library (Chinese: 上海图书馆; pinyin: Shànghǎi Túshūguǎn), which also houses the Shanghai Institute of Scientific and Technological Information (Chinese: 上海科学技术情报研究所; pinyin: Shànghǎi Kēxué Jìshù Qíngbào Yánjīusǔo), is the municipal library of Shanghai, China. It is the second largest library in China after the National Library in Beijing. At 24 stories and 348 feet (106 m) tall, it is the second tallest library in the world, as well as one of the largest. The building has a tower that looks like a giant lighthouse.

Shenzhen Cultural Center

Shenzhen Cultural Center includes Shenzhen Concert Hall and Shenzhen Library and is located in the Futian district of Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. It was designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. The vineyard-style concert hall seats 1800 and was opened in 2007.It is located adjacent to the Shenzhen library and near Shenzhen civic center and Children's palace (少年宫) line 3 subway station. It is one of the two main concert venues in Shenzhen, the other being Nanshan cultural center (南山文体中心剧院).The 2019 Belt and road music festival will be inaugurated at Shenzhen concert hall. During the three week long music festival, a number of music concerts will be held around the city including at the concert hall.Other concert halls in Shenzhen include Shenzhen Polytheater (Nanshan) (深圳保利剧院) and jucheng, with their ticket bookings done locally as well as on Boyan Piao.

Shenzhen Library

Shenzhen Library (Chinese: 深圳图书馆) is the public library system of Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. The main library is a part of the Shenzhen Cultural Center in Futian District.

It was previously the Bao'an County Library. As of 2016 there were 627 public library facilities in Shenzhen.The main library occupies a 49,589-square-metre (533,770 sq ft) building on a 29,612-square-metre (318,740 sq ft) plot of land.In 2009 city government began a library platform program called "City of Libraries" ("City of Library" [sic]).

Sir Robert Ho Tung Library

The Sir Robert Ho Tung Library (Portuguese: Biblioteca Sir Robert Ho Tung; Chinese: 何東圖書館) is a public library in São Lourenço, Macau, China. A part of the Macao Public Library system, is located in St. Augustine’s Square in the Historic Centre of Macau, a UNESCO world heritage site. The library is housed in a mansion that has good historical, cultural and architectural value. The old building has the head office of the library system, located on the ground floor, and the offices of the Macao ISBN Agency, located on the second floor.

Tianyi Ge

The Tianyi Ge (Chinese: 天一阁; pinyin: Tiān Yī Gé; literally: 'One Sky Pavilion'), translated as Tianyi Pavilion or Tianyi Chamber, is a library and garden located in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China. It is the oldest existing library in China. Founded in 1561 by Fan Qin during the Ming dynasty, in its heyday, it boasted a collection of 70,000 volume of antique books.

The name Tian Yi refers to the concept of cosmic unity first described in a Han dynasty commentary to the Book of Changes. In Chinese alchemy Tianyi is linked to the element of water, thus it was believed by providing a watery name would protect the library against fire damage.

The Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty visited Tianyi Ge, and ordered officials to draw schematics of Tianyi Ge's building plan and book cases as prototype to build several imperial libraries including Wenyuan Ge in the Forbidden City, and Wenjin Ge in the Chengde Mountain Resort to house the Siku Quanshu encyclopedia.

After the Second Opium War, the British took many history and geography collections from the library. They were followed by thefts from local thieves; by 1940, the collection dwindled to less than 20,000 volumes. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, due to government effort and donation by privated collectors, the collection now recovered somewhat to about 30,000 volumes, mostly rare antique Ming dynasty printed and hand copied volumes.

In 1982, Tianyi Ge was established by the Chinese authorities as a National Heritage Site. Also located in the complex is the Qin Family Drama Stage.

The walls are specially made that can prevent fire.

Wenjin Ge

The Wenjin Ge (simplified Chinese: 文津阁; traditional Chinese: 文津閣; pinyin: Wénjīn Gé) is a former imperial library built in 1773 by the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty inside the Chengde Mountain Resort in Chengde, China. A copy of the Siku Quanshu was originally stored in this library.Wenyuan Ge is another remaining imperial library of the Qing dynasty.

Wuhan University Library

Wuhan University Library (Chinese:武汉大学图书馆) is the library system of Wuhan University, serving the university's students and faculty. It has 4 branches: Arts and Sciences Library, Engineering Library, Information Technology Library and Medical Library. The collection contains approximately 228,000 books & periodicals, 5,778 newspapers, 6,767,000 printing volumes, 6,590,000 e-books & e-magazines, 442 databases and 200,000 volumes of thread-bound ancient books as of 2011.

Xiamen University Libraries

Xiamen University Libraries, Xiamen, Fujian, China, founded in 1921, over years of development finally took its site on the current location in 1987, covering an area of 18,000 square meters.

Yunnan Provincial Library

Yunnan Provincial Library (YPL) (云南省图书馆), founded in 1909, is located in Kunming, China.

Yunnan Provincial Library was awarded Guust van Wesemael Literacy Prize 2005 by IFLA.

Zhejiang University Libraries System

Zhejiang University Libraries System or simply Zhejiang University Library or Zheda Library, is the libraries system of Zhejiang University, and one of the largest university libraries in China.

Libraries in Asia
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