Several days ago, Ms Chen, who lives in Lin’an District, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, returned books borrowed from the Zhejiang Library to the Lin’an District Library near her house, freeing herself from 3 hours of running about if she had to return books to Zhejiang Library. This is one user who benefitted from the Overall Service-Improving Programme, which aimed to enhance the public library system in the province. In this example, the library coordinated the loan and return of books, with books borrowed in one public library allowed to be returned to any public library within Zhejiang Province.

This seems to be a small change but is motivated by the Overall Service-Improving Programme which offers great reform significance. In June 2020, Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism and other relevant departments jointly launched the Overall Service-Improving Programme Plan for Zhejiang Public Libraries (2020-2022), with a focus on balance — public libraries across the whole Zhejiang Province plan to spend 3 years to solve problems such as uneven library distribution and service inefficiency, bridge the social divide through integrated management, optimise digitalisation, and expand the community outreach of library services. The Plan aims to incorporate technological innovation and build a public library community.

"Appointment with books at the Hehe Book Bar" activity held in Taizhou Library, Zhejiang Province

“Appointment with books at the Hehe Book Bar” activity held in Taizhou Library, Zhejiang Province

There are 8 objectives to the Overall Service-Improving Programme:

  1. Commitment to creating diversified reading spaces with distinctive characteristics and ensuring even distribution in the neighbourhood.
  2. Implementing the coordinated loan and return of library items among public libraries in Zhejiang Province.
  3. Optimising digital services, narrowing relevant urban-rural gap, establishing a province-wide joint procurement mechanism and a collaborative service platform, upgrading mobile reading services, and promoting digital services for ancient books and local literature.
  4. Developing an online book loan and return platform called “credit reading”, which is based on personal credit and there will be no deposits or overdue fees in public libraries across the province. Readers in rural areas can fairly benefit and enjoy the online book selection, borrowing and delivery to home through “credit reading”.
  5. Promoting high-quality reading activities in rural areas, for example, the spectacular growth of new media can be used to diversify activity forms and promote the involvement of the masses.
  6. Optimising convenience services, especially improving the barrier-free reading facilities of public libraries to enhance the service for the marginalised groups.
  7. Regular epidemic prevention and control.
  8. Promoting the corporate governance reform of public libraries at and above the county level.

Blind readers listening to audiobooks in the Music Hall of Ouhai District Library, Wenzhou City

Blind readers listening to audiobooks in the Music Hall of Ouhai District Library, Wenzhou City