Libraries enrich villagers as new skills are learned
Source: China Daily | 2021-08-27

Every Monday morning in Mentun village, locals gather in their rural library to share books and they are often joined by book lovers from nearby villages.

After extensive renovations were completed a year ago, the tennis court-sized library is now the place many locals frequent most in the village, which is under the jurisdiction of Baise city in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

The village's library was previously a small office, where about 3,000 books were available, according to village official Tao Hanshan.

"There wasn't enough room in the library for visitors to read or share books, and villagers were reluctant to come," says Tao.

The village was once mired in poverty, and most villagers were struggling to make a living back then. They barely had any interest in reading, he says.

"The village had no extra money for the library project," he recalls, adding that, at the time, some of the library's books were also outdated.

As Chinese authorities urged efforts to provide better services and facilities in rural libraries, upgraded rural reading venues have seen increasing numbers of visitors in recent years.

In April last year, a local bookstore donated 30,000 new books and supporting facilities to the library in Mentun village, which allowed the library to be significantly upgraded.

Ruan Wencheng, a villager in his 50s, has since become a frequent library visitor.

"Last year, my family tried to raise silkworms, but we failed due to a lack of skills and experience," says Ruan. "Experts are not always in the village, so I often come to the library to read and borrow books related to silkworm breeding. I have learned a lot."

Tao says that the library now continuously updates its books in accordance with the needs of villagers, and it is gaining increasing popularity not only in the village, but also in the villages nearby.

To make rural libraries more attractive, authorities have taken various measures in villages across the country.

Take the rural library of the Nanzhan residential community in the Sanjiang Dong autonomous county of Guangxi as an example. All residents were relocated from poor and remote areas of the county, so more books for younger readers have been included in the library's collection.

Yao Yongsheng, who is in charge of the library, says that it enjoys huge popularity among students, especially during the holidays.

The past few years have also witnessed the boom of digitized rural libraries. Provincial and regional authorities across the country have been promoting digital reading in rural areas, using TV sets, mobile applications and online libraries.

"Many books are now available in digital libraries and I can read them on my TV," says Ruan. "My life has been enriched."