A woman reads at the 24-hour Chengming Bookstore in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, on Dec 18. XINHUA
Libraries play an important role in our lives. It’s a place where we can bathe in an ocean of knowledge. Now, there’s even a law that can help us better enjoy the services that libraries provide.
China’s first national public library law has gone into effect since Jan 1, 2018, CRI reported. According to the law, public libraries should provide free services, such as lending books and data inquiries, as well as provide public spaces and organize public lectures, training sessions and exhibitions.
Public libraries should be open on weekends and legal holidays. Government-funded (政府资助的) public libraries should also have juvenile and children’s reading areas, with instructors to guide and educate.
Meanwhile, library reforms are under way to better serve the public.
“We are working on building a full list of book collections that all libraries across the country will have, which will make it easier for readers to get the books they want,” Han Yongjin, curator of the National Library of China, told Global Times.
“We are also working on ways to make ancient classic literature more ‘alive’ for modern readers,” Han said.
These are part of the efforts to promote reading among Chinese people, as China still lags behind in reading rates compared with major Western countries, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
A national survey by the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication showed that Chinese adults read 3.21 e-books and 4.65 paper books on average in 2016, compared with an average of 16 books in Europe and the United States.
Fortunately, more efforts have been made to encourage a love of reading in all people. This goal has been included in the Report on the Work of the Government four times since 2014 and was also featured in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).
In fact, many other countries also have laws to promote reading.
The US introduced the Reading Excellence Act in 1998, Xinhua reported. It requires the US government to spend money to support reading programs in schools and train teachers who teach reading. In 2002, the US introduced the Reading First program, aiming to make sure that all students can read at or above their grade level by the end of third grade.
Japan introduced the Law for the Promotion of Reading Activities for Children in 2001, according to the Japan Library Association. The law requires each prefecture and local government to make plans to improve reading among children. Japan also assigned April 23 as Children’s Reading Day.