Welcome to Peking University Library

Founded In 1902

Services: Passivity to Activeness; Crudeness to Perfection

A core task of a modern library is to provide a rich variety of literature to its readers. In the past hundred years, the Library's readers have experienced its services from crude, passive, and closed forms to today's all-round, active, and open ways.

In the early days of the Book Depository of the Imperial University of Peking, book circulation was conducted in closed form. All books and journal would have to be returned to the Library before summer vacation started each year.

In early nationalist years, Chinese reading rooms and western language reading rooms were established, operated under the Rules for Library Reading Rooms. The Library's main task, though, is book storage, with short open hours and an inadequate and inconvenient catalogue.

During his tenure as Chief Librarian of the Library from 1918 to 1922, Li Dazhao made it a point to back up the educational reforms of the university. Concrete measure were taken, such as increasing copies of reserved books, prolonging the Library' open hours, and setting aside rooms as teachers' reading space. New books were also introduced in Peking University Daily, and displays of books and journals were often held. Besides, Li Dazhao also put forward the idea of open-shelf circulation, only to drop it for the lack of necessary conditions in the Library.

In 1931, Mao Zhun became Chief Librarian of the Library and he at once organized the move to the new temporary site at Song Gong Mansion. This period witnessed a fair rise of standard in reader services, with increased flexibility and care.

Upon completion of the new building in 1935, library hours were prolonged, hitting 76 hours a week, with an increase in new service items. 24 research rooms were opened and inter-library loan became possible.

After the nationwide university restructuring in 1952, three main circulation service counters were established with the Yenching library as the center. Reading seats were increased to as many as 1,700. By the end of 1950s, circulation service counters had been increased to eight, thus magnifying the scale of the reader service. As to ways of service, more help for students was given, while service for teachers was enriched and strengthened with special circulation counters established for them, as well as special reading rooms.

After the Cultural Revolution, the Library re-adjusted its reader service systems, taking the lead among China's university libraries in the experiment in open-shelf circulation. In 1984 the Library set it as its task to increase the rate of open circulation to over 70%. By the end of 1980s the open-shelf circulation had managed to handle over 0.5 million books. The idea of 3-front collections were raised as the way to reorganize the Library's collections: the forefront collection was for open-shelf circulation; the second front for basic storage and main circulation counters; and the third front for copies, rare books, and old newspapers, etc. The Library also aimed to gradually build information service system with disciplinary literature as its main content. Reference and consultative works were also offered in various specialized reading rooms, and secondary documentation was also made to reveal the Library collections. In 1984 the Library again took the lead among China's university libraries in establishing the computer-networked information retrieving section. "Peking University Collections" was established in 1988, together with information centers especially devoted to American, Russian, and Canadian items. Microfilms were made to record the Library's rare collections and so to facilitate their storage and the reader's access to them.

Today, a new chapter in the Library's reader service has been opened. With the new library building and the network technology made possible by modern technology, the reading environment has been further improved. More space has proved fruitful in the number of collected literature, in the largeness of the open areas, and in reading seats, etc. Besides book-form documents, the Library has also obtained a large number of domestic and foreign databases, overshadowing all other university libraries in China. The Library provided BBS forums for its readers, making possible a closed interaction with them, and using it as the means for reader consultation and training. With a view to revealing its collections and to enhance its readers' ability to retrieve and utilize its resources, the Library has organized "one hour lectures" once in a while, a favorite among the readers.

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