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Director of the Department of Research and Guidance of Tianjin Children's Library
Vice Director of the Department of Research and Guidance of Tianjin Children's Library
There are public children's libraries in every provinces, cities and counties all over China. Being a basis of development for the undertaking of children's library in the future, the paper gives a comprehensive analysis and study on the library building, staff, fund, collection and service of all the children's libraries in China. Synthesizing the ideas of experts and scholars in the library fi eld at home and abroad, the authors set forth the strategy that should be taken for the development of the undertaking of children's library from 5 respects:
Furthermore, the paper also expounds the trend of development for undertaking of children's library.
(2) Divided by the System of Organization
(3) Divided by the Collection
a)The comprehensive children's library means all public children's libraries and libraries of Children's Palace (Children's Center).
b)The special children's library means the library only with the single collection, such as: toy library, etc.
c)The comprehensive school library means libraries in middle and primary schools.
d)The professional school library means the libraries in the vocational schools.
(1) Library Buildings
The buildings for children's library at all regions in China have been improved step by step for recent years. Some new buildings for children library in some provinces, municipalities and counties are going to be completed and open to the public. According to the statistics, the building areas in the 5 provincial libraries are arranged as :
From the statistics, we can see that the area of the children's library in Hunan Province completed in 1992 is the first one in the Chinese provincial children's libraries . However, some of them are not satisfied with people, such as , Beijing Children's library located at the corner of the Guozi Prison in the North of Beijing for a long time. The area of the old library building is only 250 squ are meters, among it, the circulation place for young readers occupied only 50 60 square meters, which is not matched with the capital scale with the population of 12 million. The building area of Beijing Children's Library is far from the standard as measured by "the National Standards for Evaluating the Children's Library at Provincial Levels"
Funds are the necessary factors for children's library to live and develop. The state has allocated quite a lot funds for children's libraries in recent years. The great changes have taken place in some aspects for the children's libraries, as: equipment, book acquisition as well as the treatment for the staffs.Setting the libraries at the prefectural and city levels as example , 1994, the depar tments responsible for culture in the cities of Wuhan, Chongqing allocated more funds for children's libraries and also took some methods for raising funds jointly by the state and children's libraries. All these funds were used to buy modern equipment of the audio visual system and computers for children's libraries. With these, the service level of the modernization in these children's librari es have been improved. Besides these, they also gave more than one hundred thousand RMB yuan for each library to order books and periodicals.The variety and quantity of new books in the two libraries are tending to increase annually.Owing to some reasons, the children's libraries of some undeveloped regions in China are facing to the problem of funds, specially short of funds for the acquisition of books and periodicals. For example: 1994, the total fund of the children's library in Huainan City of Anhui Province was 77 thousand RMB yuan, among which , the cost for the staffs was 43 thousand yuan and only 2 thousand RMB yuan for acquisition of books and periodicals, accounting for 3% of the total except the expenses for repairment, etc. The "total fund" and "the fund for the acquisition of books and periodicals" of the library were in the lowest levels as measured by "the National Standards for Evaluating the Children's Libraries at the Perfectual and Municipal levels"
From the analysis, we can see that the funds for children's libraries can not only rely on the state , but also adopt various methods and find more and more economic ways from the actual condition to make up for the funds. Only in this way, the undertaking of the children's library can be developed.
Collection is the main factor for the work of children's libraries, and also the important material basis for attracting children to read. so far, there are 26 big size libraries with the collection of 250 thousand volumes for the Chinese books ,26 medium size libraries with the collection of 50 thousand volumes, 16 small size libraries with the collection of 25 thousand volumes. From this we can see that the collection system of public children's libraries in China has been on a certain scale. Setting the libraries at the district and county levels as example: by statistics, the total collection in 21 children's libraries in China is about 716851 volumes, among it, one with the collection of more than one hundred thousand volumes, accounting for 5% of the total; 4 with the collection of 50 thousand volumes, accounting for 14% ;9 with the collection of 10 thousand or 5 thousand volumes, accounting for about 45% . For example: the collection of Hongshan District Children's Library in Chifeng City of Nei Monggol is up to 106909 volumes. The rate of collection in the library is tending to rise because the responsible department has allocated more funds for acquisition of books and periodicals .
However, owing to the prices for books and periodicals going up and some libraries being short of funds, the quantity for supplementary collection comparatively decreased, such as: the total collection of the children's library in Dongsheng City of Nei Mongglo is 6040 volumes, the books and periodicals they ordered in l994 was only more than 200 volumes. The total collection of the library only c an reach the lowest level as compared by "The National Standards for Evaluating the Children's Libraries at the District and County Levels".
However, the service of open shelf is uncommon in children's libraries. Some libraries have been adopted old circulation service which is not convenient to children. For example, one of the children's libraries has been acquisitioning more than ten thousand books with beautiful covers and rich materials from Hongkong and Taiwan for years successively. But suitable service measures of guidance and propagation were not adopted to the children, as a result , these reading materials loved by the children have not been circulated very well, even some of them have not been open to the children readers so far. Thus, according to children's characters, inspiring reading interests of children through various kinds of services, and showing the collection through many ways will be the inexorable trend for developing the undertaking of children's library.
By statistics, the staffs of children's library with cultural education of college and university accounts for 50% of the total; the staffs with the title of high, middle, low technical or professional posts account for two third of the total professional staffs. For example, Tianjin Children's library has paid more attention to the professional and skilled training for the staffs who are on the job. There are more than 40 staffs who have been received the education of college and university for years, accounting for over 90% of the total in the library. In 1994, there are 3 staffs promoted the post of higher political engineer or vice research librarian, 9 staffs as librarians, 2 staffs as assistant librarians during the work of evaluating the technical and professional post. The workin g enthusiasm of the professional staffs have been inspired, the quality of them has been raised, and at the same time the fresh vigor has been poured into the development for the undertaking of children's library.However, the staffs' quality in some children's libraries can't meet the needs for the work. For example, there are 19 staffs in one of the children's libraries at the prefectural and ci ty levels. They are from different posts: 3 from the theatrical companies, 6 from other systems ( such as: food service, factory and enterprise, school, etc.) , 2 on sick leave for a long time. There are only a few professional staffs left ( the person with the technical and professional post). In this case, it's very difficult for children's library to do the professional work well.
We can see very clearly that paying attention to training the staffs, strengthening the professional backbone forces, giving education of cultural and professional knowledges to the staffs on the job as soon as possible are very important questions directly related to rising and declining the undertakings of children's libraries which we can not neglect.
A serial of documents, regulations, stimulations and measures, etc. related to libraries have been made and issued in China, such as : in May, 1980, the Outline of the Report for Library Work got through on the 23rd Secretariat Conference of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China; in Feb, 1982, the Regulations of Library work for Provinces, Autonomies and Municipalities issued by t he Ministry of Culture, in which emphasizes the construction for the undertaking of children's libraries. These documents lay a foundation for the policies, laws and regulations of libraries in China. But, there has been no law special for children's library so far. A Regulation for the Work of Children's Library of City, District and County in Tianjin issued by Tianjin People's Government is th e only one suitable for public children's library. It's the first regulatory document for regional public children's library issued formally by the Government in the history of libraries in China. After that, some regulations for the work of school libraries worked out by the provinces and cities, as: Wuxi, Shijiazhuang, Nanjing, Fuzhou and Tianjin. Issuing the law of children's library will refl ect the will of people, safeguard children's right to use library, and insure the development for the undertaking of children's library healthily. Thus, strengthening the construction of law system for children's library in China, bringing the work of children's library standardization, systematization and legalization are the fundamental measures to consolidate and speed up the development for t he undertaking of children's library.
In the aspect of developing the net distribution for children's library, we should adopt the measures of combining the big, middle with small libraries together according to the actual conditions:
To make a rational distribution and increase the service nets for children's library we can set up libraries (reading rooms) in villages, towns, streets, middle and primary schools. For example. in a mountain area of Japan, a small size children's library has been set up by a voluntary person to solve the problem of lacking children's library (reading room) . There are more than 5 thousand librar ies like this in Japan in the eighties which are run by the privates and voluntary organizations to make an ideal reading condition for children. The small size libraries are set up in the dead areas of library service and mainly serve to the local children. About half of such small size libraries are in private houses. The complementary measures between the small size libraries and big ones beco me a new structure for children's library in Japan. Now, such kind of "small size libraries" as: "a small size library run by 100 families", "a hopeful library" etc. have been set up by many social organizations in China recently which bring the vitality for the undertaking of children's library.In general, bringing the forces of the state, collective and private into full play to run children's libraries is a good idea for developing the undertaking of children's library.
Only in this way, the professional level and structure of knowledge for the staffs of children's library in China can be raised and is tending towards rationalization. Therefore, the whole level for the work of children's libraries can be changed and face to the new challenge of the new era.
The new measures we should take are doing away with the traditional ones "just borrowing and returning books" and creating something new in order to be different from the past.
(1) Establishing a new system of collection and locating the reading places which are suitable for the system.
Besides the traditional collections, the system of collection for non book materials (as, magnetic tape, video tape, slide, color hanging picture, toy beneficial for intelligence and model , etc.) should be established for meeting the needs for children's psychology and character in the ratio of collections. Some reading places as: audio visual room ±, picture room ±, toy room ± , model room ± with children's interests are considered to be opened for fitting out the new system of the collection.With these non book materials of audio visual and the vivid pictures to develop children's intelligence , we can get the effect of learning something from playing.
(2) Organizing the activities of reading widely and bringing the cultural and educational function of children's library in China into full play.
If we want to bring the cultural and educational function for children's library into full play, we should arouse the reading interests of children, enlarge the reading scope and encourage them to read more and better books. At the same time, the condition for children to exchang their knowledge should be supplied.In this case, through various kinds of forms to make full use of the collections of children's library, a serial of reading activities should be organized , such as : "large scale reading competition", "story telling session", "symposium for readers", "a heart to heart talk between authors and readers".
By statistics, most of children's libraries in China organize various kinds of reading activities in varying degrees annually with the participants of millions upon millions. Through these activities, children can not only learn some knowledges from libraries which can's be get from classes but also rich their lives after class. And in certain senses, organizing the reading activities will play a n active part in spreading cultural and scientific knowledges and raising the cultural quality of the whole nation.
How about the theoretical research on children's library science, the key problem is the staffs. It is an urgent task to cultivate and train a number of professional staffs to be engaged in the work of theoretical research and solving the problems occurred in the research work as soon as possible. Therefore, the subject of children's library should be arranged in colleges and universities in Chi na. We suggest that the department concerned in China should find some specialists and scholars concerned to do the professional work or send some staffs with certain ability to go abroad to study. A research contingent with organization , plan and ability of scientific research will be built at the end of the century.
Organizing activities of academic research regularly, we should strengthen the scientific research on the basic theory and applied technology to impel the staffs of children's library to gain more achievements. Some comprehensive or different kinds of academic conferences of children's libraries have been held by some provinces and cities in china recently. For example, 1989, an activity for appr aising Excellent Paper of Children's Library was organized by the Editorial Department of the Journal Children's Library and Libraries of Middle and Primary Schools and the Association of Children's Library in the Regions of Northeast, North China and Northwest jointly.
After that, a Collection of Excellent Paper of Children's Library was edited and published. It's necessary to enliven the academic atmosphere in the system of children's library and push the training work for the staffs forward.
To strengthen the academic research and exchange, the Journal, Children's Library and Libraries of Middle and Primary Schools was published by Tianjin Children's Library in the eighties. Then, some professional journals have appeared , such as : Children's Libraries Libraries of Middle and Primary Schools , the Work for Children's Library , Book sea for Children , the Work for Children's Book , Children's Library and a Little Egret in the children's libraries of some provinces and cities, as : Hunan, Shenyang, Dalian, Hangzhou , Shanghai and Xiamen. As one the sponsored unties, Wuhan Children's Library together with Wuhan Library Society and Wuhan Library publish the journal, Collected essays on Library . Some columns of "children's Library and Libraries of Middle and Primary Schools " etc. have been created in the journal to supply a place of academic research and exchange for the local staffs of children's libraries. As the development for the undertaking of children's libraries in China, the professional journals and reference materials for children's libraries will be published more and more.
(1) Setting up the coordinated network for children's libraries in China.
Now, a national children's library should be established as a central library as quickly as possible. Under it, provincial branch coordinated centers in all provinces and municipalities as well as branch center libraries at prefectures should be established. District and county libraries are as member libraries.A coordinated vertical network should be formed, that is, the center of the national children's library branch center of provincial children's library prefetural and city libraries as member libraries. At the same time, the network of children's libraries at various systems should be established , such as: cultural system , educational system, union system and Youth League system . From this way, a system of children's library with division of labor, coordination, a crisscross network and all channels will be formed.
(2) Establishing a local retrieval network of electronic computers in the system of children's library.
Using computers in children's libraries to do the work of classification, catalogue, service to readers and administrative management is the fundamental mark of modernization for the undertaking of children's library. The children's library is going to adopt modern facilities instead of hand control. Computers have been used in many respects in all children's libraries, such as : service to read ers, technology and administrative management ,etc. A local retrieval network with electronic computers in the system of children's library is tending towards formation.
A national leading organization is necessary to lead the work of acquisition, coordination and distribution of document resources in each regions. A system of document resources with a unified leader, planning and division of labor should be established in China.
(2) Electronic Computers Will be Widely Used in the Work of Children's Libraries.
Using electronic computer is the key to realizing modernization in children's libraries. It can be used in many respects, as : acquisition, catalogue, retrieval and circulation , administrative management and work statistics. The application of computers can meet the children reader's needs for books and materials efficiently and make all kinds of work in order with high quality.
(3) The Structure of Knowledge for Staffs of Children's Library Will Raised to a Higher Level.
The construction for the professional staffs is the important factor for the stable development for the undertaking of children's library. Just relying on mastering the old professional knowledge and skill to realize the modernization for the work of children's library is not enough. Therefore, the higher demand on the cultural and professional quality for the staffs of children's library should be put forward, that is : they are not only proficient in the knowledges of their own profession, science and technology, but also have a good ability to do the management operating work. Only in this way, the modernization for the work of children's library will be developed steadily.