First law on public libraries enacted

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China's first law on public libraries took effect on Jan 1.


People visit the National Library of China in Beijing on April 23, the World Book and Copyright Day. [Photo provided to China Daily]


It requires governments at the county level or higher to set up public libraries that provide reading services and spaces, and are open to the public for free.


Libraries must also organize public lectures, activities to promote reading, training and exhibitions, and other public cultural service programs.


The law was enacted through a vote of the National People's Congress Standing Committee on Nov 4. A draft of the law was reviewed by an executive meeting of the State Council in April.


The public library law follows last year's enactment of the public cultural service guarantee law.


The new library law details the legal framework of the guarantee law and is intended to realize the function of public libraries to deliver cultural services.


Highlights include the construction and enhancement of the main-branch library systems at the county level.


China had nearly 3,200 public libraries which received more than 647 million visitors by the end of 2016, the National Bureau of Statistics reports.


"Our country has built a library service network that covers urban and rural areas," says Zhang Yongxin, director of the Ministry of Culture's public culture office.


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