Library branch focuses on vocational skills

Wu Huixin
Hangzhou Library, the "third living space," opens a branch at the Hangzhou Electric Information Vocational School to establish links between campus and the public. 
Wu Huixin
Library branch focuses on vocational skills
Hangzhou Library Yuexiang Branch / Ti Gong

A teacher gives guidance to a student when she borrows a book. The convenient borrowing system enables readers to borrow books just by swiping the library card and scanning the book’s barcode. Students can borrow up to 10 books at one time.

Hangzhou Library has been dubbed by local residents “the third life space” — after home and office — where people can improve themselves and develop their hobbies. It has established different themed branches across the city and each year hosts a myriad of activities to enrich the lives of local residents.

A new branch, with a vocational skills theme, opened at the Hangzhou Electric Information Vocational School in Dinglan Subdistrict on May 18.

It is the library’s first branch in a school with the aim to build links between campus and the public.

“This venue was transformed from our assembly workshop. It was abandoned due to technology upgrading in recent years. Now, Hangzhou Library has endowed it with new properties for students and local residents,” said Zhong Feng, the school’s vice president.

A first batch of 2,000 books has been put on the bookshelves that have been transformed from abandoned assembly-line machines.

The venue shares a loan system with the main library, so readers can borrow and return books between branches across Hangzhou.

Readers can borrow books simply by swiping the library card and scanning the bar code on a book. They can borrow up to 10 books at a time.

In addition to the reading section, the new venue also has a learning space for four activities — flower arranging, tea ceremonies, carpentry and coffee making.

Library branch focuses on vocational skills
Hangzhou Library Yuexiang Branch / Ti Gong

Some of the first batch of 2,000 books on the bookshelves at the Hangzhou Electric Information Vocational School.

At present, this space is only accessible to students due to COVID-19. But as the epidemic wanes in the coming months, it will gradually open to the public.

Professionals will be invited to give classes on tea ceremonies and flower arrangements. Visitors can also enjoy tea and coffee brewed by volunteers.

Students are being encouraged to work as volunteers at the library for points that can be redeemed for drinks or cultural products.

Last year, Hangzhou Library hosted 2,700 activities. It recruited expert volunteers to teach classes that were free for all people. There were regular free classes in dance, calligraphy, seal carving, photography, yoga and traditional Chinese instruments.

It is also a volunteer base for people with disabilities and helps produce movies for hearing-impaired and blind people.

“We hope this new library can accelerate the integration of our school and residential communities,” said Zhou Hongmi, the school’s president.

“In the future, we will further collaborate with Dinglan Subdistrict and Hangzhou Library in voluntary lectures and training to promote public cultural services in this area.”

Library branch focuses on vocational skills
Hangzhou Library Yuexiang Branch / Ti Gong

A teacher gives a tea ceremony class in the library. 

The subdistrict is operating the new branch along with the school, in a bid to develop it into a cultural complex offering exhibitions, activities and audio-visual services to residents.

“We must make the best use of the venue, encouraging people to read,” said Zhou Hongxing, Dinglan’s director. “The culture can nourish people and in return gives a boost to the economy.”

Over the past 10 years, Hangzhou Library has established 28 branches with different themes in the city. It leads libraries in China with its open and inclusive environment and innovative operating concept.

Library branch focuses on vocational skills
Hangzhou Library Yuexiang Branch / Ti Gong

An expert shows how to make coffee, which can be enjoyed by visitors to the new branch of Hangzhou Library. 

The Tianziling branch, for example, which features environment-friendly materials and an energy-saving design, is the first library in China with a focus on environmental issues.

Tianziling Hill used to be a landfill with up to 5,000 tons of domestic waste dumped there every day since 1991.

The library’s main venue, which is in Qianjiang New Town, covers an area of 49,000 square meters and has more than 5.6 million books, top-flight facilities and an advanced borrowing system.

The high-caliber facilities are not the only attraction. The library has hosted a number of activities for the public. Over the past years, it has organized thousands of gatherings devoted to opera and classical music.

To attract more online visitors and avoid too many people gathering amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the library gives online classes for the public on subjects that include tai chi, parents and children, and Latin dance.

Due to stringent epidemic prevention policies, all library branches limit visitor numbers every day.

Readers should book in advance through its official WeChat account. 

Library branch focuses on vocational skills
Hangzhou Library Yuexiang Branch / Ti Gong

A reading session is held in the library to encourage people to read more.

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