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New Jiangxi library to provide online reading for now

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-02-04 08:28

Wearing a virtual reality headset, Deng Kaiyang saw a four-character idiom with one character missing. The 8-year-old used the controllers to shoot a digital arrow at a lantern with the right character from a dozen red lanterns. This was a scene at a new library in East China's Jiangxi province last month, when local residents were invited to visit, prior to its official opening.

Apart from the VR word puzzle games played by Deng, visitors entered small booths and followed the words displayed on a screen, reading stories or poems aloud. They were allowed to download their work via cellphones to share with family and friends. In a corridor, children were excitedly stepping on a projection piano keyboard. With enough practice, they could play a delightful tune.

The new Jiangxi Provincial Library, which was scheduled to open this year, is located in the city of Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi. With an investment of 962 million yuan ($137.1 million), the library is designed to contain 10 million books and accommodate up to 20,000 readers per day.

"Our new library boldly learned from museums such as science and technology museums, introducing a number of frontier technologies and advanced facilities, which has changed people's stereotypical ideas about traditional public libraries," says Tao Tao, chief librarian of Jiangxi Provincial Library.

After reservations for the introductory events opened, tickets were snapped up within one hour, Tao says.

In the new library, readers can borrow books using a facial recognition system, saving time and improving work efficiency.

"In my memory, there were only books in the library. I had to wait in line to borrow books and there was nothing to do in the library except to read," says Peng Yibo, a Nanchang citizen, adding that she put down her mobile phone and read picture books with her child in the family area.

"My son told me that he wants to come again. This was the first time he has showed any interest in a public library," Peng adds.

Wu Qingfeng, 40, drove nearly an hour with his family to the library. "I hope my 12-year-old son can spend less time playing with his smartphone and read more books. I brought him here hoping he would like the library."

In this digital era, traditional public libraries are struggling to attract readers, Tao says. To meet the diversified demands of readers, the 100-year-old library decided to build a new facility in 2015, while the introduction of new technologies is among a series of important measures. Tao says modern libraries are no longer just a venue where people come to read, use or borrow books and newspapers, but a place for work, study, as well as socializing.

Tao adds that the library plans to introduce intelligent technologies to enable readers to have a tailored book list based on big data analysis.

The new provincial library announced it would suspend its readers experience activities for the public starting Jan 24 due to the ongoing battle against the novel coronavirus, according to its official website. However, people can still log on to the site for digital reading.

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