Across China: Century-old countryside library still shining, evolving

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KUNMING, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Crossing the double rainbow bridge at the entrance of Heshun ancient town in southwest China's Yunnan Province reveals a two-story building blending Chinese and Western architectural styles.

This is Heshun Library in the city of Tengchong, a library boasting around 130,000 volumes, including numerous invaluable ancient books, and a history spanning over a century.

In 1924, inspired by progressive ideas, young locals in remote Heshun recognized the importance of knowledge, wisdom, and external information for the village's prospects to progress. Despite the challenge of long delays in receiving periodicals from Shanghai due to Heshun's southwestern location, they resolved to establish a reading and newspaper society, thereby laying the foundation for today's Heshun Library.

At that time, books and newspapers were purchased from Shanghai, shipped by sea to Myanmar, then transported by riverboat in Myanmar, before finally being carried by horses to Heshun.

The people of Heshun advocate reading, and their tradition of valuing both farming and studying has been passed down through generations.

Cun Yu, the current curator of Heshun Library, said that after a busy day of farming, locals would rush to the library to read, and their passion for reading has made the town renowned as a cultural hub both far and wide.

This border town is home to less than 8,000 people, but nearly 3,000 of them have obtained library cards, as most of the villagers there are literate.

"I got my library card at Heshun Library when I was 9 years old," said Cun Yu. Three generations of his family have worked at the library, with his great-grandfather being one of its founders.

"Heshun Library is our place of learning and enlightenment," said Cun Qinghua, a retired teacher from the town's central primary school, who has been visiting the library for over 50 years.

"When we were young, the resources were limited, and we had to use handwritten catalog cards to search for books, but now electronic book retrieval is much faster, and the resources much richer," Cun Qinghua said when referring to the library's updated digital services.

In addition to electronic book downloads, ancient book searches, and information inquiries, the library also provides regular updates on activities related to traditional festivals, serving as a platform for cultural and historical exhibitions, and earning praise from readers and visitors alike, according to Zhang Lifei, a staff member of Heshun Library.

Zhang said that the library regularly invites renowned experts and scholars to give lectures, which are open to local residents and tourists.

The library also sets up a reading program for children in the community by hosting a variety of educational activities such as reading promotions, calligraphy, and painting training, and makes an effort to promote Chinese traditional culture. Currently, 27 sessions have been held, benefiting more than 5,000 children.

Nowadays, Heshun Library has evolved from a reading society covering only a few square meters to a modern rural library spanning more than 6,000 square meters.

From handwritten catalog cards to modern library retrieval systems, and from a traditional library that only provided book borrowing services to a comprehensive multifunctional library integrating tourism, cultural relics, and public cultural services, Heshun Library has evolved and still continues to innovate and expand its functions, providing more convenient public cultural services for the masses and nurturing the spiritual worlds of the people of Heshun. Enditem

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