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Shanghai Library in brief


In 1996 the new Shanghai Library moved to its present premises, 1555 Huai Hai Zhong Lu (Huaihai Road Middle), and officially opened to the public on December 20th, 1996. The new location covers 3.1 hectares of land, with a floor space of 83,000 square meters. It styles itself in the shape of pyramids with escalating cubic blocks, which symbolizes the solid foundation of cultural heritage and the endless efforts by human being in pursuit of knowledge.

Equipped with user-friendly facilities, including reading rooms, research carrels, exhibition halls, auditorium, seminar rooms, audio-visual rooms, the new library creates a spacious, quiet and comfortable environment for reading and learning.

Shanghai Library cherishes the motto of “Reader First”, and keeps an open-minded service philosophy. Anyone over 14 years old, either local residents or domestic and overseas visitors, are entitled to registration as members of the library. The library is open everyday throughout the year and hosts 9 million visitors every year.

Shanghai Library is one of the ten largest libraries in the world in terms of its floor space as well as its collection: it is home to extensive holdings of altogether 50.95 million items, ranging from the latest technical reports, patent and standard files, to the ancient artifacts; from paper copy, sound and video recordings, to digital databases.

The historical documents constitute the special treasures of the library, including 100,000 manuscripts and letters, around 5400 local records dated before 1949, 18,000 titles of genealogical files (342 family names), over 8,000 copies of imperial test papers, 150,000 pieces of epigraphs and rubbings, and 1.7 million old books (25,000 titles amounting to 170,000 volumes are rare editions).

Among these precious collections, 531 items are ranked as first-grade National Cultural Antiquities and 470 items are of the second-grade. There are more than 300 titles of block-printed editions prior to the Song Dynasty, 224 titles of ancient hand-written sutra before the Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties Period, and the earliest item dates back to the year 518 AD (“The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra”).

More than 50,000 pieces of letters, diaries, inscriptions, pictures and rare documents from a galaxy of famous Chinese people since late Qing Dynasty, including Ba Jin, Xiao Qian, and Fu Lei, are housed in the “China Cultural Celebrities Manuscripts Library”. And many of them are being digitized.

Shanghai library is equipped with an advanced computerized automation system: the nodes of the Local Area Network reach all corners of the building, and the integrated management software governs the main library processes and services, including acquisition, cataloging, circulation and book searching. Giga resources of the library and the city, home and abroad, are accessible via the iPAC cataloguing system. A cybernated book-carrier system allows delivery of resources kept in the closed stacks from the 6th to the 23rd floors to readers at the counter on the first floor in just 5 to 20 minutes.

Shanghai Library is also the headquarter of Shanghai Central Libraries, a citywide library network whose members are coordinating with each other in acquisition, circulation, resource building and sharing, and staff training. This system consists of altogether 37 district and county public libraries, university libraries and special libraries. Service points are established in fast succession to cover city’s communities and neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, by carrying out inter-library loans with 65 overseas libraries and information institutions, such as OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), the British Library and the Library of Congress of America, Shanghai Library is actively engaged in international cooperation, making resource-sharing possible across boundaries of sectors, regions and countries.

In addition to the conventional functions, the library is also providing in-depth research services. Far beyond a home of books, and not just a modern information center, Shanghai Library is aiming to become a portal of knowledge navigation. A group of experienced librarians has been teamed up to provide 24/7 online reference services, namely, “Cooperative Reference Online Service (CORS)”. The research arm of Shanghai Library, acting as a think tank, conducts research and consultation for clients of governments, institutions and business to contribute to the social, economic and cultural development of the city.

The “Window of Shanghai”, an integral part of “China Book International” Project initiated by the Information Office of the State Council, has donated more than 10,000 books to foreign libraries and related institutes in 22 countries and regions, aiming to promote Chinese history, culture and civilizations.

Diverse social events such as serial public lectures and exhibitions are organized to enrich citizens’ cultural life and to satifisfy the information and cultural needs of society.

With Digital Library project making steady progress, users can enjoy an increasing number of digital and online resources including Shanghai Pictures, Shanghai Local Records, Rare Books, Local Opera Music, and Documentary films of Popular Science, Chinese Newspapers and Journals, Chinese Books between 1911 and 1949, Library Journal and SciTech Proceedings.

Shanghai Library aims to deliver the knowledge that helps stimulate the wisdom and ignite the aspiration, through its excellent services and sincere cooperation. Shanghai Library is now trying its best towards the objective of becoming a "World-class City Library".