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62nd IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 25-31, 1996

The Av Services At Public Libraries In China

Wang Qian
AV Material Section, National Library of China.


The AV services took their earlier shape in Chinese public libraries in 1970's. Until now, there are about 300 public libraries which deliver AV services. This author sampled several of those libraries which are on the top list in the quantity and quality of AV collection and services, introducing their developing history and pre sent present situation, the items and quantities of their collection and items of their services, their computer application and their existing problems and future development, in one word, outlining AV services in Chinese public libraries from different angle.


Ladies and Gentlemen:

I would like to take this opportunity to give you a brief introduction on AV services in Chinese public libraries. The AV services took their earlier shape in Chinese public libraries in 1970's. Before then, only some university or college libraries collected and used some AV materials for educational purpose. Although, there are a few public libraries which colle cted a small quantity of sound discs or sound reels, there is no enough equipment, systematic management and service. 1970's sew the fast development of AV materials both in quantity and in categories, especially sew the popularization of sound cassette in China. Request for AV materials from readers increased in the same rate. As a response, some public libraries began to collect AV materials and deliver the service to readers. Until 1994, there had been about 300 public libraries which established AV services. The list includes the National library, a part of provencial, municipal and even county-level librares. Of course,they are different in quantity, quality and developing speed rate. Libraries which locate in better-off areas, such as in the East-coast areas,have more chances chances to develop the AV service than these in poorer areas, such as in the North-West territories. Libaries which are newly built have better chance to pre-plan the AV service than those old ones, ect,...

I. AV material collection in Chinese public libraries

1. National Library of China

The National Library of China is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture, the PRC. It is not only as an comprehensice research library and national general repository of publications, but also as a public library itself.

In 1987, just when NLC moved in new buildings, an AV Mertrial Section was founded. The main collection now is CD, sound cassette, LD, videocassette and sound disc. Until the end of 1995, the quantity reached to 28,200 pcs, namely, CD 12,000 pcs, videocassette 10,000 pcs, sound cassette 4,000 pcs, sound disc 900 pcs, LD 1,300 pcs. Content of audio materials is mainly music and langu age teaching, while content of vedio materials covers the fields mainly as politics, military, economy, education, art,history, geography and science & technology.

2. Provincial libraries

Among 30 or more provincial libraries, 2/3 of them have established AV services, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjing, Najing, Liaoning, Shandong, Henan and Heilongjiang Library, ect. Shanghai Library takes a lead both in quantity and in quality of collection and services.

The Shanghai Library is the earliest to collect AV materials. In 1971, it established a so-called "Sound Disc Section". In Nov. 1985, this section developed to its present like called "AV Material Department". In Oct. 1995, Shanghai Library merged with Shanghai Institute of Science & Technology Information, this department got better equiped and richer in collection. The content of collection characteristics mainly in music, dance, drama and film. Categories are sound disc, CD, sound cassette and LD. Their most proud and richest property are 130,000 pcs sound disc covers almost all categories of Chines local and traditional music and opera. Just to imagine, their collection of sound disc for Beijing Opera alone covers 6,000 titles. The collection saticsfy the needs of specialist and researcher in music, drama and film.

3. Municipal libraries

There are more than 370 municipal libraries in China. Among which Guangzhou Library is one of the best in AV collection and service. They began to collect in Jan. 1982. Until now, there are 20,000 pcs AV meterials. Among which, sound cassettes are the largest collection, which amount to 9,000 pcs,mainly for foreign language teaching purpose. Other municipal libraries, such as Harbin, Shenzhen and Dalian Library, ect, are also on the top list.

II. Management of AV materials in Chinese Public Libraries

Questionaries to the 20 public libraries which have AV collections shows that these libraries all put highly attention to management of their AV materials. They have specific staff responsible for AV materials management and have AV service rooms. The income of AV materials is mainly through purchasing, also through donation or exchanging. Among the collections,the sound cassette and videocassette are two largest categories by quantity CD, sound disc and LD are in the second largest groups, while V-CD is the smaller, film reel is the smallest. However, CD and LD will unbelievably be the largest categroy in the near future.

In the respect of cataloging to the AV materials. There are no uniform rules among different libraries. The main reason is that a few libraries, i.e. NLC, Guangzhou, Fujian, and Najing Libraries, effect computerized management to AV materials to different degree while most ones still apply manual operation. Most libraries use "Cataloging Rules for Non-book Material -- Nationa l Standard of PRC. 1985" which is based on ISBD(NBM),while a few have their own rules. Among three levels of cataloging, i.e. detailed, basic and simplified, most of them use the second level.

As it is applied to the books, "Chinese Book Classification for Libraries" is also used as a tool to classify AV Materials, because there is still no classification specifically for AV materials. An exception is the Shanghai Library. Taking into consideration that in some classes, i.e. music, language, film, the levels are still not detaited enough to classify thei r AV collection, especially to their 130,000 pcs sound disc.They have to stipulate their own classification to make their own purpose.

Because sizes and shapes of AV materials vary too much among categories, most of libraries organize shelving first according to categories, and then to series number, while as a few of them, which collect only one categroy, shelve AV materials according to classification of content.

The retrieval points are mainly those as classification, title, responsible body, shelfing number in the case of mannual retrieval. In addition to these points, other once, such as subject entry, key word, publisher are also applied when computerized retrieval is used.

III. AV service in Chinese public libraries

There are four main servies: which are in-room delivering service, lending service, reference service and videocamera taking service.

1. In-room delivering service

There are two kinds of AV service rooms, one delivers services to meet individual's needs, another to collective's. Some libraries have several AV materials rooms with diferent functions, while some have only one. Among all those in China, the National Library of China has the best AV in-room services. There are three AV Material Rooms in this library. One is for individual's pu rpose with 60 seats which delivers services of video, CD and sound cassette according to individual needs and choices. The other two are for collective's with together 200 seats, which deliver services of reader, slide, LD, CD, sound disc and videocassette, ect. Every wednesday, they offer to readers free of charge art film documentaries for operas, musics, dances, gallery collections or landscapes. Through the way, the readers become more acquainted to the library's AV collection, and also get artistic enjoyment of international level. Statistics show about 35,000 readers' visits to the AV Materials Rooms per year. Another good example is the Guangzhou Library. There are also three AV Materials Rooms which are named "Music Materials Ser vice", "Video Materials Service" and "Video Replaying Service". Supplying servies respectively as their names mean. Reader's visits among to 10,000 per year.

2. Lending service

Most of libraries are still reluctant to lent out AV materials, because they are costly and easily worn and the defected areas are not easy to be checked out when returned. With the improvement of Chinese economy, more libraries may afford to carry out this service.

3. Reference service

There are two ways of reference service. One is to help readers more effeciently use catalogues and indexes, and answer their questions. The other is to provide readers with the SDI Service. For example, Shanghai Library has huge quantity of sound discs, including early year's coarse groove record of both home and abroad. They are treasure materials to the artistic reaserchers. W ithout advisor's help, it is not easy thing for the reaserchers themself to access a piece of materials from more than 100,000 pieces of sound discs collection.

4. Videocamera taking service

Some better-off libraries have been equiped with videocamera and editor. For example,the National Library of China makes their own video programs by using these equipment. The main programs they have made are as "Introduction to the National Library of China". Another program named "Services to readers in the National Library of China". They made "Histor y of China's Ancient Books" is made in response to the request of Hitachi of Japan. This program introduces China, as the earlist country of inventing paper, and paper's originating and developing, and also introduce of Chinese Books making history.

IV. The application of computer technology in the AV Material Management

Almost all provincial and most of municipal libraries have used computer for management of books, but seldom for AV materials. A few exception is one called "AV Material Management system"(AMMS) which is jointly made by Guangzhou & Shenzheng Library in 1991, and put into operation in the end of 1992. The AMMS consists of following sub- systems: purchasing, catalogi ng and on-line retrieving. Following the patterns of CNMARC and UNIMARC. They made AV MARC. The success of AMMS offered experience for further exploring and improving the system of higher level. Othermore, in Dec. 1995, "China MARC Format Manual" was published, which includs the content of AV material, supplying firm base for the data exchanging and AV material usege shari ng and accelerating automation process of AV material management.

V. Existing problem and future development

1. Existing problem: China is a developing country. Though 10 year reform made rapid development, this populated country still lacks enough investment to the sector of culture. The increasing quantity and cost of in-print material make the budget even more tight, not to mention to have enough to improve AV services. This is an No.1 problem facing to the public libraries in China. Se condly,the collection of AV materials and their management is not quite well planed and organized. Collection is not quite systematic, operation is not according to uniform stantard, researcher is not enough, equipment is not quite up- to-date and not well-maintained. These problems cause some poorer libraries have to close their AV rooms and service departments. To solve this probl ems is not easy thing. The libraries with better condition should overcome these probloms as soon as possible.

2. Future development: The rapid development of computer-tech, LD- tech, net-tech and multi-media tech produces more and more electronic publication. Application of multi-media tech become a benchmark of modernized library. In 1994, Guangdong Zhongshan Library were cooperating with Guangdong information center, this library even aspiringly suggests a plan to establish an "Electronic Library". In fact, this plan is a huge electronic-document network open to the public. The first stage will be completed soon in 1996. The National Library of China had also established an "electronic document Reading Room" in march, 1995. Three monthes later, an "Electronic Information Dept." and a "CD-ROM Information Center" were also founded in this library. The main collections are floppy discs and CD-ROM with 70 databases which contain more than 100,000,000 pcs of data. These departments are equipped with more than 20 pcs computer termials and 80 pcs CD-ROMs which make use of Novell Net, supplying good interface for retrival service and whole-text reading service. They are also connected with Chi na Education Research Network, and becomes an important domestic computerized information exchange center. Using multi-media tech to manage AV materials will be an ideal objective in future. We expect more and more "Electronic Library" to appear in China, which exchage information resources globly.