Investing more in libraries

CHINA will go on investing heavily in its libraries nationwide, Vice-Minister of Culture Zhou Heping said on Friday during a meeting on library resource sharing.  

The State Development and Reform Commission plans to invest 100mil yuan (RM45.6mil) annually during the period from 2002 to 2005 to build libraries and cultural centres in counties across the country, he said.  

The Ministry of Finance will also increase annual subsidies to regional cultural services from the current 11mil yuan (RM4.9mil) to 30mil yuan (RM13.6mil) for the purchase and maintenance of library facilities and equipment.  

Zhou said that, as of 2001, China had 2,696 public libraries manned with a combined staff of 48,600.  

Their collections jumped from about 306 million volumes in 1991 to 420 million in 2001. 

He attributed the rapid development of the public libraries to increased funding from government at all levels. 

Zhou noted, however, that, compared with international standards, which stipulate a ratio of one public library for an average of every 20,000 people, China's ratio of one library for every 459,000 people was far from adequate.  

He also acknowledged that funding for libraries had not been spent efficiently and libraries across the country should step up resource sharing and information exchange to avoid redundant construction. – People's Daily  

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