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Brief History


Shanghai is a metropolis with well-developed business and industry, and also holds a leading place in China's arts, sciences and education. The city has a relatively short history, but its first library dates back as early as 150 years ago.

In 1847, shortly after Shanghai opened its door to the world as a port city, the Library of the Xu Jiahui Jesuit mission was founded. With a collection of 200,000 volumes in both Chinese and Western languages, it became an early modern library established in Shanghai. Shanghai East Library, the first library run by Chinese, opened in 1925.

In 1950, the Shanghai Cultural Heritage Managing Committee launched a campaign to collect books and many scholars and celebrities were thus mobilized, making large donations. In about one year, the collection grew to more than 200,000 volumes, of which some were rare books. Meanwhile, the committee started to buy books from abroad.

On July 22nd 1952, the first large municipal public library with a collection of more than 700,000 volumes was founded at 325, Nan Jing Xi Lu (Nanjing Road West), and was inscribed by then Shanghai Mayor Mr. Chen Yi. In October 1958 Shanghai Library merged with the Shanghai Municipal Library of Science and Technology, the Shanghai Municipal Library of Historical Documents and the Shanghai Newspaper Library, making itself the second largest comprehensive public library in China, in terms of collection, services and professional expertise.

When originally established, Shanghai Library was located in the former "Racecourse Building", which had a floor space of 30,000 square meters. There were altogether 150 library employees, serving the needs of general readers as well as enterprises and government departments. The library also provided the Union Catalog of Chinese Books and interlibrary loan services, offered professional training to smaller libraries, organized various activities such as exhibitions, book discussions and seminars and published its own reference books at the same time.

With the rapidly increasing number of publications, the library acquisitions exceeded the capacity of the building in the 1970s, which affected the shelving, and hence, the circulation. In 1983, Shanghai Cultural Bureau began to make research and proposals for the construction of a new library building. In 1990, then Shanghai Mayor Zhu Rongji urged the leaders of Shanghai Library to focus their attention on the planning of new library construction. With this great concern of the municipal government, the new building laid its first foundation stone on September 1st, 1993.

In October 1995, Shanghai Library merged with the Institute of Scientific and Technological Information of Shanghai (ISTIS), resulting in an advanced, comprehensive public library, the first ever in the country that combines public library services with SciTech and industry information research functions. The new building opened to the public a year later, and soon became a landmark of the city.

Visiting address: 1555, Huai Hai Zhong Lu (Central Huai Hai Road), 200031, Shanghai
Tel.: 021-64455555; Fax: 021-64455001

*Shanghai Library can be reached by taking bus line 26, 911, 945, 926, 920, 830, 96, 15 and 548 to Gao'an Station or Shanghai Library Station; or by taking metro line No. 1 to Hengshan Rd. Station.