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National Library of China celebrates the 100th birthday
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National Library of China (NLC), celebrating its 100th birthday today, is on a fast-track progress toward modernization with a series of ambitious projects.

National Library of China (NLC), celebrating its 100th birthday today, is on a fast-track progress toward modernization with a series of ambitious projects.  [China Daily]

Today NLC is open to visitors over 16, enabling broad access to all of the ancient and modern collections. The library is also far more than a place to borrow and return books.

"The first function of NLC is to pass on the culture of the Chinese nation," said Zhan Furui, the fifth library curator of NLC. "Meanwhile, NLC takes the responsibility of offering document consulting services for the top leaders to facilitate their decision making. Of course, NLC also contributes to teaching and scientific research. Last but not the least, NLC serves ordinary readers."

NLC initiated the Wenjin Book Award in 2004. The award honors 10 categories of books (vacancy allowed) and also recommends 30 titles to the public every year in the fields of philosophy, social science and natural science. Up until now, the award has honored 39 from over 2,000 books entered in the competition. Among the entries, 117 have been recommended.

NLC also holds numerous lectures for the public, such as its Wenjin Lecture Series and the Wenjin Reading Salon. It also presents diverse and large-scale exhibitions of library treasures and collections.

However, as modern day technology advances, the library is facing new challenges. According to Zhan, the reading rate of Chinese people is dwindling year-on-year from 60.4 percent in 1999 to 54.2 percent in 2001, 51.7 percent in 2003 and 48 percent in 2005 and 2007. Many people are using the Internet and online books instead of traditional physical works.

Through the use of advanced technology, NLC is keeping up with the times by providing comprehensive and unique services for the public. In additional to the access of viewing more than 10,000 e-books compiled by NLC, readers can also enjoy reading and library services on their mobile phones and cable television channels.

Visitors to the library can use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to locate documents more conveniently and swiftly. In lending services, users can make use of online reservations and renewals, as well as self-service borrowing and returns.

In NLC's new building, separate areas are designated for reading rooms, research studios, general services and academic conferences, as well as leisure activities including a cafe, music hall, cinema and bookstore. The library now offers an extensive and integrated service system for all to use.

In the future NLC will continue to follow the theme of "Pass on Civilization, Serve the Society" explained Chen Li. He added that the library will "take use of all conceivable methods, including employing advanced technologies and ideas of administration, to maintain the leading position within the libraries in China and even the world."

(Global Times September 9, 2009)

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