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

The Establishment and Development of the Three-Level Network of Modern Shanghai Public Libraries

Wang Lili
Shanghai Library

(English version by Chen Wuji)


The public library service in Shanghai has made tremendous achievements,especially in networking development since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. The article comprehensively and objectively reviews the history of the founding and the development of the three-level (municipal,district or county and street or town) public library and children's library systems, looks forwa rd to its future and describes the tortuous problems in the process of networking development. The article also introduces the formation and the current situation of the centre of the network, Shanghai Library the second largest library in China, and presents the architecture and setup of the new building of the library.


Because of the social turbulences, frequent wars as well as economic depressions, the cause of public libraries was considerably backward before 1949. As an international metropolis, Shanghai had only a municipal public library at that time. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in October 1949, fundamental changes have been taking place for the cause of public libraries in Shang hai under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and people's regimes established. Great developments have been achieved within aspects such as facilities, professional ranks, management, education and theory, etc. Great successes have been scored in either the providing of social education or services for politics, economy, scientific research and culture. Especially, great achievemen ts have been resulted for the development of public libraries' networking and ultimately, the establishment of the three-level network of public libraries in Shanghai region. Facilities of public libraries which were left-off after liberation could definitely no more adapt the needs for Shanghai's development after the founding of new China, further more such situation would be more intensified as the carrying out of socialist constructions and the developments relating to socioeconomic, research and educational causes. Therefore, the people's government of Shanghai while recovering, rebuilding and developing Shanghai's economy, adopted vigorous measures to develope the facilities of public libraries in Shanghai region. From the preparation of Shanghai Library at municipal level in ea rly 50s up to the forming of the network of public libraries at municipal, district or county as well as street or town levels in 1982, during thirty-three years', period, people's governments at different levels and the vast library workers of Shanghai region have made unremitting efforts for the establishment of the three-level network of public libraries. 1. The Establishment and Development of the Three-Level Network of Public Libraries for Adult.

(1) The Development of the Municipal Public Library and the Establishment of it's Status as the Centre of the Network.

In June 1949, the Educational Section for Municipal Affairs under the Committee of Shanghai Military Control took over the only one public library in this metropolis which was left by the city government of KMT Shanghai Municipal Library, it was then something more in name than in reality with poor circulating books of less than ten thousand volumes, and rebuilt it into Shanghai's first public l ibrary at municipal level--the People's Library of Shanghai after the founding of new China. Obviously, such a small public library could not adapt the development needs of a big city. Thus, advocated by mayor Chen Yi, city government decided to set up a public library with large scale--Shanghai Library. Starting from 1951 the Library Section of the municipal Management Committee of Cultural Af fairs was assigned in charge of the preparation work. In order to primarily lay a solid foundation of the stock holdings for the newly built library, staff members of the Library Section on the one hand were in full swing to take over and systematize books and journals from various channels, while on the other hand, conducted a wide-ranging book collection movement among the masses. Descendants of a group of famous scholars and book collectors like Liu Yazi, et al. contributed or sold a great amount of much valuable and even precious books in succession, such acts were proceeded from their ardent loves towards new China's librarianship.

After being catalogued and registered by the Library Section, registries of these books taken over or collected were specially sent to mayor Chen Yi who was extremely busy with his daily routines for examining and approving. In order to provide worthily referential books and journals which were necessary for Shanghai's economic constructions and scientific researches, although economic blockade w as suffered and financial problems were in tough conditions then, the city government still allocated special funds to invite 15 scientists and scholars then in Shanghai and formed a committee of book selection which was managed by the municipal Management Committee of Cultural Affairs in charge of the selecting and subscribing of books and journals in foreign languages. Shanghai Race Club locat ed at 325, Nanjing Road (W) was finally rented as the library housing. Besides, more than hundred school graduates were hired from the society to undertake library vocational work after training. Thus, a new type of a public library at municipal level was born on July 22, 1952 with 5,000 square metres in area, 700,000 volumes of stock holdings and 150 staff members. The municipal Management Co mmittee of Cultural Affairs continually took over plentiful orientalistic books and various kinds of journals and newspapers of the remote past from the Library of Royal Asiatic Society (North China Branch) which was known as the best one for its collection of orientalism, as well as a number of libraries' stock holdings from the Pacific International Society etc., making the stock holdings of Sh anghai Library be further supplied. In 1955, books from the Storage Building of Xu Jia Hui Catholic Church were totally merged into Shanghai Library. This storage building collected more than twenty thousand titles of Chinese ancient books which amounted about 120,000 volumes. Among them, there were many books in respect of those of agricultural science, nearly 3000 gazetteers and famous rubbi ngs (from stone inscriptions), pictures, newspapers and magazines from different provinces, and also, bound volumes of the earliest newspapers in China such as Shanghai Xin Bao, Hui Bao and North China Herald (English edition) and so on. Especially, Shen Bao was almost preserved completely from its first day edition to its end. Besides, there were more than 80,000 volumes of foreign ancient clas sics, including Latin, French and German rare books at ancient times and, all kinds of books, famous encyclopedias, religious classics published since the century. All these greatly enriched the stock holdings of Shanghai Library.

During the early time of the founding of the people's republic, although the finance of the municipal government was in tough condition, it still allocated funds to assist private libraries. Feeling the serious attention paid by the Chinese Communist Party and the people's government towards the librarianship, many creators of private libraries donated their libaries to the state one after anothe r. From 1952 to the early time of 1956, the Cultural Bureau under the municipal people's government took over or accepted 7 private libraries in succession, and merged or rebuilt them respectively into three professional public libraries, namely, the historical documentation, scicnce and technology and periodical ones in accordance with their characteristics.In October 1958, the Cultural Bureau o f the municipal people's government decided to merged the three professional public libraries mentioned above into Shangahi Library. Thus, a large, comprehensive public library at municipal level was preliminarily shaped with its complete categories in stock holdings, 20,000 square metres in area of library housing, more than 4 million volumes of book holdings and 304 staff members. After the T hird Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, Shanghai municipal government while vitalizing the city's economy, scientific research and culture, developed vigorously the public library by paying serious attention to "material key elements" of the development of librarianship which focused on library housing, stock holdings, personnel and funds etc., along wit h the implementation and the continuous deepening of the reform and open-up policies. In addition to an increase inereasing the funds of librarianship annually, 10,000 square metres' stack-room was newly built during the period from late 70s to early 80s and ,4000 square metres' stack-room used for turnover was extended from originally the eastern bleachers of the Race Court as well.

After forty-four years' efforts Shanghai Library has been developed and become the second largest library in China with 36,740 square metres in area, 8,350,000 volumes of stock holdings and nearly 700 staff members. Among 1,300,000 volumes of the ancient Chinese book, there are 150,000 volumes of rare book which many are unique copies across the country. The 400,000 volumes of Chinese paper bi nding book which go back from around the Revolution of 1911 to 1949 are dominated with literature works and Shanghai local documentations. Some of the revolutionary documents in early times occupy the first place with a variety of categories throughout the country. Shanghai Library also collects musical and dramatic records or tapes at all times and from all countries, as well as microfilms, mic rofiches and rubbings from metal or stone inscriptions. There are over 20,000 Chinese newspapers and journals published before 1949; more than 13,000 foreign periodicals within fields of science and technology; over 19,000 Chinese newspapers and journals and more than 17,900 foreign newspapers and journals both currently issued in its stock holdings. The library has compiled more than 1,000 dif ferent bibliographies, abstracts and indexes over the years. So far, it consists of Dept. of Ancient Chinese Books, Dept. of Modern Documentations, Dept. of Chinese Books' Acquisition and Cataloguing, Dept. of Foreign Books' Acquisition and Cataloguing, Dept. Newspapers and Journals, Dept. of Professional Reading, Dept. of General Reading, Audiovisual Library, Dept. of Reproduction and the Print ing Factory, etc. Further more, the Shanghai-San Francisco Friendship Library, Wen Da Information Company and its affiliated information service agencies like Seminar (workshop) Centre, Data Processing Centre­, all provide excellent services to its readers or clients. The highly tasted Wen Da Bookstore and the popularized Displaying and Sales Hall of Books Newly Published in China opens 84 hours a week, providing comprehensive services for readers while receiving more than 2,500 readers a day.

The tasks and functions of Shanghai Library mainly are publicizing Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong
Thought, as well as lines, general and specific policies put forward by the party and the state, carrying out situational education concerning patriotism, socialism and our motherland; disseminating scientific information. Relying on all kinds of documentary media available to provide information services initiatively towards leading bodies of the party, government and military authorities conce rned, and institutions or academic organizations and societies in respect of economy, scientific research, culture and education, as well as judicial departments; popularizing cultural knowledge. Enhancing cultural backgrounds and qualities of citizens by means of recommending books and magazines, giving more effective reading guidances and carrying out reading activities etc.; collecting ancien t books and records.

Protecting ancient books and other special collections appropriately, while conducting scientific researches for their exploitations and utilizations; carrying out international exchange for publications as well as foreign-related cultural exchange programmes. Besides, under the leadership progleadership of the Cultural Bureau, it may take concerted actions with cultural bureaus at district or c ounty level to establish and develop the network of public libraries in Shanghai region. At present, Shanghai Library is the centre of the three-level network of public libraries for adult in the region. Under the leadership of the Cultural Bureau, its Dept. of Professional Guidance takes its responsibility to coordinate all the vocational operations of libraries at district or county level. Als o, it is the member of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the depository library of the United Nations' publications and one of the centres for book collections within the whole nation. Nowadays, it is marching towards the centre for documentary collection, documentary searching, interlibrary coordination and cooperation, as well as for the research of library and information science in Shanghai region. The development of public libraries in Shanghai must catch up with the development of such an international metropolis along with the deepening of the reform and open-up policies. The municipal government of Shanghai decided to build a new modern and multi-functional public library with large scale in Shanghai. In 1983 the Planning Commission under the State Council approved to build a new Shanghai Library with 80,000 square metres in area. In 1990, thanked to the cordial concern of the then mayor Zhu Rongji and other municipal leading cadres, the project of the new library was formally implemented. On march 25, 1993 the foundation stone laying ceremony was held. The whole project is going to be completed in 1996.

The new Shanghai Library is a large modern and comprehensive public library with multi-functional roles. The whole architecture consists of the main building and the subordinate one. The main building consists of two towering highrises and some side-rooms connected with them. The heights of the two highrises are respectively 55.6M and 106M with 11 floors and 24 floors above the ground. The ma in building is divided into A,B,C and D four sections. Section A is going to be reading rooms and stack rooms for departments of modern books and journals, ancient Chinese books, microform materials etc. and the administrative department of the library; Section B is going to be the lobby and the multi-functional hall; Section C is going to be reading rooms for both new Chinese and foreign languag e books, general stack rooms, computer rooms and acqusition and cataloguing departments for books, newspapers and journals etc.; Section D is for rooms of equipment and facilities, an exhibition hall, a room for academic activities, rooms for audiovisual materials and their compiling and recording, a lectural hall and stack rooms of open shelves, etc.. The subordinate building is for life facili ties. There is a main entrance to the new library on Huai Hai Road(M). There is also an entrance leading to the lectural hall, the exhibition hall and rooms for audiovisual materials along Gao An Road. The new library is surrounded with afforestation, flower terraces and sculptures. In the southern area of the architecture there is a big garden decorated with a pool, rockeries, flowers, plants and meadow and so on. The allocation and overall arrangement of the new library is reasonable. The division of noisy area and silent area is quite clear and definite. The momentum of the whole architecture is fully magnificent while the environment is peaceful and fine. There are 38 reading rooms for different uses, 24 reference reading rooms, 8 research studios with audiovisual materials and altogether 3,036 seats in the new library with totally amounted 13,200,000 volumes of book holdings for the stack capacity. Among them:23 reading rooms are for both new Chinese and foreign language books with 800,000 volumes of them open shelves; 11 reading rooms are for ancient Chinese books and those of modern history with 10,000 volumes that are open shelves; one is open shelves' lending sta ck with a capacity of 300,000 volumes of Chinese book; 4 are audiovisual rooms of different kinds. Besides, there are a lectural hall with 842 seats, a multi-functional hall with 300 seats, an exhibition hall with 500 square metres in area and, a room for academic activities with 320 seats which installed the movable simultaneous translation equipment with multiple channels while can provide ser vices for activities of international academic exchange programs. The new library is going to be equipped with various kinds of advanced equipments and facilities in order to improve its means of operations, raise the level of scientific management and working efficiency, so as to give full play to the multi-functional roles of a modern library. These equipments and facilities mainly are: Compu ter Systems. An integrated library management system including sub-systems of acquisition, cataloguing, circulation, periodical and enquiries for the catalogue of stock holdings; a storage and searching system for the processing of secondary documentation and the full-text technology; a storage and searching system for diagrams or characters; a multi-media system; a system for interlibrary joint cataloguing and inter-library loan as well as an executive management system, etc.

Documentary Microcopying System.
Equipments with different specifications and functions such as pick-up cameras, photo developing machines, copiers,readable machines with copying function, enlargement machines for colour pictures, etc. will be widely adopted.
Audiovisual System
Various types of audiovisual equipments, large-screen TV projecting equipments and a music room, a language laboratory and research studios for audiovisual materials will be used or established. The music room can be used for the appreciation of music or local operas, or for holding lectures or literary salons; The language laboratory provides services for readers to learn foreign languages; The research studios for audiovisual materials, no matter with its single unit or four-person one, are used for high-level readers or professionals to do their researches and creations. Besides, there are also technical working rooms of every manifestation and control system for audiovisual equipments which will provide special services for producing, compiling, recording and monitoring, as well as for the satelite receiving.
Disaster-proof and Security System.
Mainly are two systems of fire alarm and guard against theft. The fire alarm system will be installed in three sub-systems of automatic alarm, fire-extinguishing and control. The security system will be installed with the alarm against theft and central surveillance devices.
Telecommunication System.
The new library will be equipped with digital switchboard for program controled telephone, international direct dialed (IDD) telephone, special line telephone and fax, also, automatic pay-phone specifically supplied for readers; Besides, technologies of medium and small typed internal telefacsimile communication network are going to be adopted to solve information transmission from readers' call slips in the management of book circulation.
Transmission System.
The new library will be installed respectively book lifts, elevators and fire escape stairways according to different uses. In multi-floored stack rooms of Secton C, book lifts and automatic carts controled by advanced computer are equipped, so as to shorten readers' waiting time and raise the efficiency of library services.
Air Conditioning System.
The complete air conditioning system is going to be adopted by the new library. Among which stack rooms for microform materials, rare books and the computer centre are adopted system with constant temperature and humidity, while for the others, advanced technology-related equipment will be used. It can keep both warm in winter and cool in summer. The central surveillance devices of the air con ditioning system conduct control and management to all the equipments of air conditioning in the new library, while watch on all the temperature and humidity parameters in every room.
Environment Protection and Energy Saving.
In handling the problem of environment protection, the new library is going to try its best to increase the area of afforestation, decrease pollution and noise which may affect readers and the environment, and create a beautiful, fresh and peaceful environment for its readers and staff members. As for dealing with the problem of energy saving, in addition to adopting the advanced technologies re lated, the outer wall of the new library is going to adopt protective structure of heat preservation.
Obstruction-free Design.
In order to facilitate disabled readers making researches or studies in the new library, it is going to be installed with special sloping-ways, elevators, toilets and reading seats for them and, established eye-catching general signs at every entrance, exit, passageway and the special-seat-area of public places. The new Shanghai Library which consists of the new library architecture, Changle Roa d Storage and Longwu Road Storage is going to be put into formal use in 1997. Surelly, it will provide multi-dimensional services for the constructions of both socialist material and spiritual civilization as well as for the masses of Shanghai citizen.

(2) The Establishment and Development of Public Libraries at District or County Level and Their Densely Covered Allocation

During the middle of the 50s, the preliminary recovery of Shanghai's economy and the rapid development of book publishing provided bases of social materials for the librarianship. Meanwhile, the popularization of civil education, the school policy specially carried out for opening to workers and peasants, the enrollment of the masses and their children, the setting up of the spare-time schools fo r staff members, all these put forward urgent demands to the society to popularize public libraries. Beginning in 1956, the Cultural Bureau of the city government decided to rebuild successively reading rooms in each district which were set up by originally the municipal People's Library into libraries at district level in order to meet the increasing demands of the masses for their cultural live s. The People's Library at municipal level was later changed its status as Library of Luwan District. Two years later, 10 counties which originally belonged to Jiangsu province were incorporated into Shanghai's jurisdiction, thus, libraries at county level were set up one after another in each county of the suburban areas of Shanghai. Under the joint efforts of governments at municipal and distr ict or county levels, 14 district libraries and 11 county libraries were set up in succesion around the period of 1956-1960 (later merged into 12 district libraries and 10 county libraries in accordance with the redivision of the administrative jurisdiction).

In early stage, there were totally over 1,645,800 volumes of stock holdings, 193 staff members in those 14 district libraries with annual acquisition fees of 244,800 yuan.

Similarly, there were altogehter over 52,500 volumes of stock holdings and 79 staff members in those 11 county libraries with annual acquisition fees of 61,140 yuan. Since at that time, there was no financial ability to build new library buildings and most of these libraries had to be settled down in residential areas with worse conditions. But anyway, public libraries at district or county leve l were established. They provided services mainly for the Party and govrnment authorities as well as enterprises or institutions of their localities, meanwhile, met with necessities of learning scientific and cultural knowledge for the masses.

After the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Party, the second high tide of learning scientific and cultural knowledge was formed in Shanghai since the founding of new China. Large numbers of readers at middle age and young who were eager to improve their cultural accomplishments poured into libraries at district or county level. Meanwhile, the problem of lacking space fo r libraries at district or county level became conspicuous than ever before due to the fierce increase of both readers and book holdings causing by the unprecedented boom of publishing brought about by the cultural rehabilitation. On the bases of economic recoveries taking place gradually, governments at municipal and district or county levels successively collected 9,631,000 yuan to newly build library buildings in 6 districts and 10 counties, while extend 2 district library housings with totally 32,880 square metres in areas. At the same time, cultural authorities at municipal and district or county levels enhanced the fundamentally vocational operations of these libraries completely: launched an extensive campaign for checking out and readjusting stock holdings within libraries at d istrict or county level; changed the origional Classification Scheme for Medium and Small Sized Libraries into Classification System for Chinese Libraries; amplified their official catalogues and public catalogues; established various operational rules or regulations, clearing out responsibilities for each staff member and, formulated Working Regulations of Libraries at District or County Level in Shanghai; expanded circulation serviecs and conducted trainings for professional staff members. In order to facilitate readers for borrowing books, governments at municipal and district or county levels paid special attentions to the densely covered allocation of the network at the secondary level. Breaking up with the old situation of one administrative area, one library, therefore, a new f ramework was formed with one administrative area, several libraries by increasing service extension according to readers scattered.

Up to 1988, there were 18 district libraries and 19 county libraries (including branches) in Shanghai region. With the deepening of reform and open-up policies, Shanghai's economic, scientific research and cultural boom, as well as the rise of its citizens' cultural qualities, a group of library buildings at district or county level and libraries of residential areas have been newly built up, du ring the period from 1988 to 1995. After the division of the readjustment of administrative areas at district or county level for several years, currently, there are 20 district libraries and libraries of residential areas, 6 county libraries, altogether, with 80,239 square metres in areas; 890 staff members, 6,700,000 volumes of stock holdings, 16,839 titles of newspapers and journals subscribe d, 9,196 reading seats, about 239,000 borrower's ID cards isscced, 6,545,498 readers received annually and with the annual book circulation capacity at 16,311,400 volumes.

The tasks of libraries at district or county level are mainly the popularization and deepening of social education, the overall raise of the scientific and cultural knowledge of citizens, and the full exploitation of documentary resources so as to provide services for local economy, research and culture. Libraries in different districts or counties all carry out various and flexible services with their own characteristics which have been well received by numerous citizens and readers. Under the leadership of governments at their localities, libraries at district or county level also establish departments of professional guidance which not only cooperate cultural bureaus at district or county level to provide professional guidances, but also in charge of cooperations and coordinations am ong public libraries at street or town level of their localities.

(3) The Birth and Popularization of Libraries at Street or Town Level.

In 1958, a high tide of cultural construction emerged, and an extensive campaign for wiping out illiteracy was carried out. Numerous women who had just stepped out of their homes and those who took part in social productions joined the ranks of eliminating illiteracy. They generated hopes for reading books and newspapers because of the needs for their jobs and mastering certain cultural knowledg e. Besides, the popularization of primary school education made a generation who were born at the same time with the founding of new China enrolled into schools. They needed to obtain reading materials beyond classes; along with the establishment of people's communes, there's a big development for literacy classes and agricultural schools in the countryside, peasants and their children with som e reading abilities needed to read books and magazines too. All these made the then on-going public libraries at municipal and district (county) levels could no more afford the reading demands caused by these groups of readers that newly emerged in urban and suburban areas. Public librarianship can not develope without economic foundation, the city government could not simultaneously establish m ore libraries at district or county level while give more money to widely set up service extension of public libraries at grass-roots. The only way was to take the civil-run way. At that time Putuo District was an area with a lot of factories, lacking of cultural facilities and concentrated labouring masses. In order to meet the reading demands of local residents, the Publicity Dept. of the Pa rty Committee of Putuo District and the district government put forward firstly the slogans of spring up library service extension all over the district area and workers needn't step out of their factory gate for borrowing books. Similarly, residents needn't go out of their lane for borrowing books too.

In June, 1958, a street library with social assistance was founded at local Dongxincun and became the first one of its kind in Shanghai. Later, within a period of two months, 14 same libraries were established relying on supports from respective community neighbourhoods. The party and government leaders paid special attentions and propped up such newly emerging things. The Cultural Bureau of t he municipal government held an on-the-spot meeting in Putuo District, spreading the managing experience of the civil library of Dongxincun Street towards the whole city. After the meeting, 836 such kind of civil librarics emerged in the city area. In October, the Civil Library of Maqiao Peole's Commune in Shanghai County was born, and 61 civil libraries at commnune (later changed as town) lev el were set up one after another in suburban areas of Shanghai region. But half a year later,some civil libraries at street or lane level could not maintain their regular operations any more because of lacking regular funds sources, unstable situation of staff members and unreasonable choices of library location, etc. Facing such difficult situation, the Publicity Dept. of the Party Committee o f Shanghai municipality and the Culural Bureau advocated to carry out readjustment and consolidation works among civil libraries at street or lane level in each district in 1959, while closed 234 libraries and consolidated 602 ones in the readjustment acts. It was stipulated that the main sources of civil libraries at street or lane level should be payable from readers in accordance with the pri nciple of ˇ°everybody reads books while everybody buys booksˇ±, meanwhile the government concerned provided certain financial assistance. Also, it was determined such kind of libraries should receive dual-leadership both from cultural management authorities of district government and their street administrative bodies. In order to strengthen and do the works of civil libraries well, the Cultura l Bureau of the municipal government held working meetings related in successive years and solved problems emerged just in time. In 1962, Regulations for Vocational Operations of Libraries at Street or Lane Level in Shanghai was formulated. Since then, it made the cause of libraries at street level have rules to follow and led it onto the correct path. With the continuous efforts of the governm ents at municipal, district or county, as well as street or commune levels, civil libraries at street or commune level had taken their roots in both the urban and suburban areas of Shanghai at last. They took collective enterprises and institutions, mass organizations, residents and, especially youngsters at their localities as service objects, and played an important role which could not be rep laced by libraries at municipal and district levels for popularizing knowledge of science and culture among labouring people, enriching cultural lives of local residents, cultivating youngsters to be useful and, publicizing general and specific policies made by the party and government. In 1962, Meifangli Library of Putuo District was chosen as a national model unit and its representatives attend ed a national conference of outstanding workers within cultrual and educational fields which was held in Beijing. In 1965, 443 civil libraries at street or lane level with social assistance (including 96 street libraries and 347 lane libraries) were set up in Shanghai with totally 1,040,000 volumes of stock holdings and 536 staff members, while receiving over 100,000 readers daily. But such phas e had to be suspended until after 1974 because the beginning of the Great Cultural Revolution.

In 1979, cultural bureaus at municipal and district levels conducted a complete readjustment towards civil libraries at street or lane level in collaboration with street administrative bodies of their localities. It solved problems such as rational distributions, funds sources, professional ranks and leadership enhancement, etc. Based on the readjustment, each district library also helped stree t libraries of their own do their fundamental operations well timely: such as jointly checking out stock holdings;unifying the use of Classification Scheme of Medium and Small Sized Libraries; comprehensive training for professional staff members and so on. Along with the deepening of economic reform in the countryside and the cultural demands consequently brought about, village book rooms (origi nally at commune level) were recovered as well. In 1984, the Cultural Bureau of the municipal government decided to establish civil libraries with social assistance at town level in city's suburban areas. In recent years such libraries at grassroots level are making further developments fully along with the development of the national economic situation and the increasing desires for knowledge of science and culture among residents in both metropolitan and suburban areas of the city. Through years of troublesome knitting by governments at municipal, district or county, as well as street or town levels, meshes meaning libraries at street or town level have been spread every corner of Shanghai region, forming a situation of stars scattered all over the sky. Currently, there are 370 libr aries (or book rooms) at street or town level with totally more than 28,000 square metres in areas, 900 staff members, 3,800,000 volumes of stock holdings, 32,800 titles of newspapers and journals subscribed, and 9,900 reading seats, receiving 7,630,000 readers annually while with 14,033,000 volumes of circulation capacity. These hundreds of libraries perform actively in every corner of both met ropolitan and suburban areas of the city Shanghai, and have made important contributions for publicizing policies put forward by the Party and government, popularizing and raising knowledge of science and culture of local residents, enriching cultural lives of the elderly people, promoting family reading activities and, raising civilization of the whole society etc., meanwhile, they have played a role which can not be replaced by libraries at municipal and district or county levels.2. The Preliminary Establishment of the Three-Level Network of Public Libraries for Children .

(1) The Establishment and Development of Children's Library at Municipal Level.
The city government of KMT didn't leave a municipal children's library. There was only a civil-run Shanghai Juvenile Library with only over 40,000 volumes of stock holdings and 7 staff members in 1949. the library developed in straitened circumstances since it had no fixed financial source while mainly relying on collecting donations once a year from different circles of the society by its board of directors.

Beginning in May 1950, the Temporary Joint Committee for Relief in Shanghai allocated funds monthly to assist this library in order to bring this only juvenile library into full play. With fixed funds source, the juvenile library started devloping its vocational works actively within the city range. In September 1952, the board of the juvenile library decided to contribute the library to the go vernment. The Cultural Bureau of the municipal government accepted it in November, and since then, changed its name as Shanghai Children's Library. The Cultural Bureau highly valued the development of the library, extended two times of its area, increased its personnel up to 31 staff members the early next year and, comprehensivly enhanced itsly fundamental construction of professional work fro m the beginning of 1954. Through years' efforts by the end of 50s, the Shanghai Children's Library had become the largest and most influential one in China from originally a lane-typed library with small size. There wered 200,000 volumes of book holdings, over 5,600 titles of excellent children's reading materials collected both from domestic and 30 foreign countries including many original edi tions. There were 3 reading rooms with a capacity of 750 readers. Therefore, it preliminarily qualified as a children's library at municipal level. In July 1957, a special meeting on working experience exchange among several provinces and cities was held in Shanghai which mainly summarized working experiences of Shanghai Children's Library in order to promote works of the national children's li braries to develop further. The same year, Shanghai Children's Library became the only library of its kind in our country which opened to the international community stipulated by the state Cultural Ministry. The library was merged into Shanghai Library in November 1960 and, became one of its affiliated department. But the whole vocational works and services of it still remained independently as a library at municipal level towards outside. After 1978, the education for childeren was re-valued by the society, the Cultural Bureau of the city government made specific efforts to further enhance the works of Shanghai Children's Library by enriching its stock holdings with large quantities, adjusting its cadres step by step, as well as expanding its service scope.

The speciality of the works for children's libraries was gradually recognized by people along with their rapid developments in Shanghai and relative theories came forward. Early in 1987, Shanghai Children's Library recovered its independently organizational system formally. It undertook all the professional guidances and organizational works of reading activities among public children's librarie s (or book rooms) and those of its kind in the city of Shanghai. After the establishment of its central status in the network of Shanghai public children's libraries, it was also defined as the chief library of the Cooperative Committee of Public Children's Libraries in East China Region. At present, with 3,118 square metres in area, 215,880 volumes of stock holdings, 410 titles of newspapers an d magazines subscribed and 513 reading seats, the organizational structure of the library consists of Circulation Dept., Reading Dept., Acquisition and Cataloguing Dept., Activities' Centre for Children Before School Age, Foreign Language Reading Room, Audiovisual room, Computer Room, Dept. of Professional Guidance and Room for Professional Studies, etc.. There divided into two parts with middle school and primary school levels respectively for Circulation Dept. and Reading Dept., mainly providing services for readers from children before school age to second grade students of junior middle school as well as for teachers and juvenile workers. Nowadays Shanghai Children's Library establishes 18 service windows, receives 124,130 readers annually with 685,160 volumes of book circulated.

(2) The Preliminary Establishment of Children's Libraries at District or County Level.
During the middle of 50s, there set up numerous primary schools in Shanghai region in accordance with the policy of popularizing the education of primary school put forward by the Party and government. In order to coordinate school education and enrich children's readings after class, the Cultural Bureau of the municipal government carried out vigorously the promotional work of library services by setting up circulating book stations in schools and children's parks as well as establishing children's reading rooms in different districts and counties. At that time, 60 children's reading rooms were established in Shanghai which could not form up a network due to their separate leadership of different systems and freely vocational works of their own. But anyway, it laid a foundation for th e establishment of children's libraries at district or county level. In 1957, Shanghai Children's Library held a training class for the professional staff of children's libraries jointly with the Educational Bureau of the municipal government, preparing necessary cadres for the establishment of children's libraries at district or county level, too.In order to make the cause of children's librar ies in Shanghai step onto the path of normal development, the Cultural Bureau under the city government decided to extend children's reading rooms which were originally affiliated to public libraries at district or county level as branches of children's libraries at the corresponding level in 1960, and, took them as centres to develop the network of children's libraries. Later the same year, 7 br anches of children's libraries and 4 children's reading rooms were set up in respective district and county areas of their localities. Along with the implementation of the national policy for family planning, better child-bearing and child-care became fashionable in Shanghai, while the early exploitation of intelligence quotient and cultural education of children were valued by the whole society . After the national symposium on the work of children's libraries held in 1981, the establishment of children's libraries (or book rooms) at district or county level was further valued by the Cultural Bureau. Therefore, in the meantime of building new library buildings at district or county level, their branches as children's libraries at the corresponding level were established also. Startin g with the year 1988, a regular meeting system concerning the work of children's libraries at district or county level was implemented which was sponsored and convened by Shanghai Children's Library. Thus, a cooperative and coordinative network of children's libraries at municipal, district or county levels preliminarily taken its shape. Nowadays, there are 24 children's libraries (or book rooms ) at district or county level. They take both pupils and students of primary schools and middle schools at their localities as service objects, while act as centres for carrying out various reading activities among local young readers. Besides, they are centres of local networks of children's libraries in charge of professional guidances towards those at street or town level.
(3) The Widespread Establishment of Children's Libraries (or Book Rooms) at Street or Town Level.
The Party Committee of Yuyuan Street in Nanshi District knew from Young Pioneers' Reading Activities and international children's activities which were carried out in Shanghai in 1979, that most of the children often received unhealthy education due to too crowded housing conditions of the street neighbourhood, lacking of conditions for home readings as well as inadequate care shown by adults sin ce most of the parents had to go to work. Those kids had nothing to do but wandering ouside after school. Although street libraries opened for them too, they were finally squeezed out because of the limited space, majority of adult readers and lacking of specific money to purchase children's reading materials. The Party Committee of Yuyuan Street considered that the healthy growth of children w as an important thing which should be concerned by the whole society. Therefore, it decided to set up a children's library in the street of its own. Although the average area for occupying the land was only 0.8 square metre per person, the library location was finally found in such a place with high population density due to the serious attention paid by leaders of the party committee. Its tot al stock holdings consist of some books allocated from the street library, some books donated by local Communist Youth League, some books newly purchased in and 23 titles of childien's newspapers and magazines subscribed. The wages and material benefits related of 2 staff members as well as fees for book acquisition were undertaken by collective enterprises in the street. After its opening, suc h an inappropriate library unexpectedly attracted more than 80 percent of the children in the street. Because for those who were under their ages, it was much inconvenient to go to children's libraries at municipal and district levels which were situated far from their homes. Now the street children's library was just opened in front of their home doors, while young readers could go there borro wing or reading books and magazines everyday. This character of being near and convenient could not be replaced by those at municipal and district levels. The party committee and the government of Nanshi District recognized it's a realistic virtue for children, and decided to establish a network of children's libraries within the whole district area. When there was only Dongjiadu Street which could not set up its children's library due to the problem of the library housing, director of Nanshi District and two of his duputies went there personally and resolved the problem by joint efforts with district party committee, district government, party and youth league committees of different streets, collective enterprises and even residents' committees. By the end of 1981,13 streets in Nan shi District established their children's libraries completely. In May 1981, the state Cultural Ministry held a symposium on the works of national children's libraries, on which the Children's Library of Yuyuan Street was praised and awarded, while its representative delivered a speech.

In order to put into effect the spirit of the symposium, give full play to the function of street libraries for providing services towards children and promote the development of children's libraries at street level, the Cultural Bureau of the municipal government held an on-the-spot meeting relating to the work of city's street libraries in Nanshi District in June 1981. The meeting asked each d ifferent district and county to learn from leading cadres of Nanshi District at different levels as well as library workers for their valuation of the works of children's libraries, while at the same time, their spirits and methods of serving children by every possible means. Meanwhile, an outlay was granted to Nanshi District to prop up the development of public libraries and children's librar ies at street level. A leading cadre of the Financial Bureau of the municipal government also delivered a speech at the meeting to support the development of public libraries and children's libraries at street level financially, making authorities concerned and all the library workers who attended the meeting very excited. After the meeting, various districts and counties vigorously went into a ctions, they overcame various difficulties and set up over 80 children's libraries at street or town level. In 1982, the Cultural Bureau of the municipal government also held a citing conference which especially cited advanced groups and individuals of the city's children's libraries in an attempt to promote the swift developments for the cause of children's library in Shanghai region, spread adv anced experiences and urge the network of children's libraries to be established as soon as possible in every district or county. Also, it was stipulated that governments at the corresponding levels would subsidize funds for the operations of each street library and children's library at street level.

By the end of 1982, network of children's libraries in Shanghai region was finally established. At present, children's libraries or their service extension have radiated to 74 streets and 62 towns within the city range while receiving 1,922,600 young readers annually with 3,247,200 volumes of book circulated and 1,404 times of reading guidances' activities conducted, which has greatly facilitated the library utilization for young readers of the city, enriched their extra curricular readings, while making libraries themselves the cradles for numerous children become useful. Up to now there are 557 public libraries in Shanghai region. The form of the three level network of public libraries makes the coverage of Shanghai public libraries and their service extension occupy a leading posit ion in the country. It not only indicates the development level of Shanghai public libraries, as well as its cultural prosperity and progressive civilization, but also provides experiences and patterns for the development of public library in the whole country.We believe that along with the further boom of Shanghai's economy and culture, and the widespreading information service business, the th ree-level network of public libraries in Shanghai will be further strengthened and the cause of it will be better developed than ever before.

Major references:

1 Files of the Cultural Bureau of Shanghai Municipal People's Government

2 Files of Shanghai Library

3 Statistical materials of Shanghai Children's Library.