Global Times 2020-08-28
Young children hold a reading event at an N-Library housed in a residential home in Foshan. Photo: Courtesy of Foshan Daily
Readers pick books at an N-Library in Foshan, Guangdong Province. Photo: Courtesy of Foshan Daily
For Lin Jiaoling, a full-time mom, accompanying her two sons at a reading club has become something she doesn't want to miss, even though she is now expecting a third child.
"My two sons are so fond of reading that they don't want to miss any reading event hosted by teacher Mo," said the Guangdong Province native, who learned about Mo Chunyi through the teacher's public WeChat account dedicated to promoting reading among children.
Mo, who has years of child education experience, said she hopes to get more children and their parents involved in reading, especially now that smart devices are extremely popular and easily catch their attention.
What Mo has done over the years is exactly what the Foshan Library has wanted to do from its very beginning. These aligned goals led Mo to join the library's Neighborhood Library project, or N-Library.
"People like Mo can plant the seeds of good reading habits from a very young age," said Huang Baichuan, curator of the library in the province's city of Foshan.
"We work with them as part of the project, which helps families build libraries at their homes by providing them access to the book collections and resources of public libraries."
Mo now runs a studio for child education, which also serves a mini library and a free space for reading for young kids.
Since 2014, Mo's studio, now boasting 10,000 books, has hosted more than 400 reading events. With the help of the Foshan Library, Mo has also introduced new equipment to the studio as part of the Intelligent Culture Home program, which makes reading easier through multimedia technology.
Huang said that as long as applicants meet a few requirements such as having a fixed location and a good record at libraries, anyone can establish an N-Library, be the curator and even name it whatever they wish. A mother of two twin daughters, Tao Xiangmei was lucky enough to become the curator of Foshan's 1,000th N-Library on August 7.
Inspired by her neighbor's N-Library, Tao decided to form her own after talking with other family members. Each successful applicant can borrow at least 200 books, so Tao was pleasantly surprised to find that she could borrow up to 2,000 books.
According to Huang, these mini-library owners must meet some obligations during their one-year-long cooperation, such as hosting at least three reading events attended by more than three people.
They can also request new books for their collection that the library will purchase for them.
In late July, the Foshan Library became the first place winner of the PressReader International Marketing Award for 2020, hosted by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. This marks the first time that a public library in China has won the award.
"With the aid of information technology, N-Libraries function as mini libraries serving relatives and friends, neighbors, people with disabilities, as well as the elderly," the award announcement said.
However, in Huang's eyes, winning such an award is nowhere as important as the impact the project has had on family reading habits in the city. Now, reading has become a time shared by fathers and sons, mothers and daughters and a bond uniting all family members.
Lin noted that her two sons, her husband and herself have become more connected through reading. For instance, when preparing events, all of them need to work together to contribute.
The impact is not just limited to families, but extends to whole communities.
In cities like Foshan, people usually don't like to interact in large groups. However, things change when an N-library arrives. People become more willing to walk into these libraries and talk with each other.
Statistics from local paper Foshan Daily show that nearly 1.5 million people in the city of 8 million have a library card. In 2019, an average of 9.59 paper books and 9.8 digital books were read per person.