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Bookworms' 'Feast' to Open

While many Chinese people celebrate Spring Festival with family gatherings and banquets, a host of bookworms are expected to feast themselves on books, lectures and movies -- all free of charge -- at the National Library of China (NLC).

"We have seen an increasing number of holiday-makers choose to spend their leisure time reading books or visiting cultural sites," Yang Bingyan, deputy director of the Beijing-based NLC, said yesterday. "Therefore, our library will work all day long during the Lunar New Year holidays."

Spring Festival -- which begins on February 12 this year -- is traditionally the most important holiday that Chinese people celebrate and usually calls for family reunions, home visits and huge feasts.

During the weeklong Spring Festival in 2000, at least 39,280 bookworms came to the library, Yang said. Last year's seven-day vacation saw 42,714 visitors come to the NLC to read books, surf the Internet or enjoy tapes and films, according to the latest statistics of the library.

Touted as China's largest treasure trove of knowledge and information, the NLC stores at least 23 million books. It is also Asia's largest warehouse of books.

Apart from giving visitors small gifts and readers' manuals on February 12 - the first day of Spring Festival -- the library will also send staffers to accompany children on a tour of the gorgeous structure, which usually is closed to toddlers.

Between February 12 and 14, an exhibition featuring the rubbings of ancient stone inscriptions and rare books of China's ethnic minorities will open to the public.

Visitors will also be able to watch movies for free in the mornings during the three days of Spring Festival, Yang said.

Entertainment aside, serious topics will be also discussed during the holiday.

The library's popular lecture hall has invited Jiang Ping, former vice-president of China Politics and Law University and vice-chairman of China Consumers Association, to give a lecture titled "World Trade Organization and China's Legal Issues" in the morning of February 14.

On February 16, Yan Liangkun, conductor of the Central Philharmonic Orchestra, will teach how to understand Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No 9.

(China Daily February 8, 2002)

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