Saturday, August 4, 2012

Self-Service Libraries a Big Hit in Beijing

For many, the limited hours of most U.S. libraries are an inconvenience. It can become a bit of a production to get to the library before it closes, especially if you work a 9-to-5 job and/or have school-age children. In the city of Beijing, China, a patron-pleasing solution to the problem of limited library hours has been found: the self-service library.

A man stands in front of a self-service library in Beijing, China.
Image via
Scattered across the bustling Chinese city are massive automated machines that collectively hold 20,000 books that are available 24 hours a day to the public. To access these books, readers must use their IDs to register for membership at a public library. Membership isn't free, however; it costs 100 yuan ($16). Still, the service is proving popular with the people of Beijing.

"I can return or borrow a book anytime of the day, even early in the morning before I go for a stroll in the garden," said Li Anyin, a retiree in the Chaoyang district. "You no longer have to rush to have the books returned before the library closes." But this new technology also has its critics. "Leafing through the books, you can hardly find an English novel or fiction," lamented Wang Yue, a graduate student. This lack of variety has been addressed by library administration.

"Most of the books are Chinese fiction, biography, cookery, and horticulture," stated Tao Jung, a publicity officer at the Chaoyang District Library. "However, the library will consider catering for different tastes and including more books."

Each self-service library contains approximately 400 books, and people can check out a total of 5 books for up to 4 weeks at a time. Currently, 50 of these automated libraries can be found in Beijing. One hundred more machines are expected to be set up in the coming months.

To read more about this "new chapter in Beijing's libraries," go to this LINK.

No comments:

Post a Comment