Annual Report 2003 - Leisure and Cultural Services Department Brand Hong Kong - Asia's world city
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  Public Libraries

The LCSD operates the Hong Kong Public Libraries System which comprises 70 public libraries, including eight mobile ones. It also manages the Books Registration Office. The Public Library System provides free public library services to meet community needs for information, research, informal education and the profitable use of leisure time. It endeavours to promote reading and the literary arts and supports lifelong learning. The library system has a comprehensive collection of 8.98 million books and 1.19 million multimedia materials and a total of 2.97 million registered borrowers.


Hong Kong Central Library

Since its opening in May 2001, the Hong Kong Central Library has developed into a major information and cultural centre in Hong Kong. Occupying a gross floor area of 33,800 square metres with a total stock of 1.82 million items of library materials, the 12-storey building provides a wide range of facilities. Special features include a Multimedia Information System, a Central Reference Library with six subject departments, an Arts Resource Centre, Hong Kong Literature Room, Basic Law Reference Collection Room, Map Library, Language Learning Centre, Young Adult Library and a Toy Library. Hiring facilities are also available including a 1,500 square-metre exhibition gallery, a 293-seat lecture theatre, two activity rooms, a music practice room and a number of discussion rooms.

The Hong Kong Central Library serves as a major information and cultural centre in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Central Library serves as a major information and cultural centre in Hong Kong.

In addition to regular cultural activities and subject talks, a wide range of territory-wide notable events were organised by the Central Library in 2003. The Distinguished Contemporary Chinese Scientists seminars, which was a joint programme with the China Association for Science and Technology and the Beijing-Hong Kong Academic Exchange Centre, was held in October, attracting an audience of over 800 and many others on the web through live web-casting. The exhibition on Heinrich Böll: Life and Work, featuring the photographs, manuscripts, awards and newspaper clippings of the Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1972, was jointly presented with the Cologne Public Library. The exhibition on Tribute to Heritage: Discovering Hong Kong's Culture and Tradition, which was co-organised by the Hong Kong Museum of History and the Antiquities and Monuments Office, showcased over 100 cultural pieces. The Music Encounter: Exhibition of Ng Tai-kong's Works presented the works of this renowned music master donated by his descendants. An exhibition on Treasure of Literature with over 280 historical documents selected from the 70,000 items collected by the library through the Documents Collection Campaign was organised to promote public awareness and research in local history. The Echoes of Antiquity — Exhibition on Guqin Heritage highlighted the development of qin music and its culture, and displayed 20 rare qins.

The Summer Reading Month activities are good examples of the wide range of cultural events organised at the Hong Kong Central Library.
The Summer Reading Month activities are good examples of the wide range of cultural events organised at the Hong Kong Central Library.


Initiatives in Library Services

With the expansion of the library stock and the growing number of registered borrowers, more than 58.62 million items were borrowed from the public libraries, representing an increase of 10.04 per cent over 2002.

The public libraries played an important role in promoting and supporting lifelong learning in the community. The Library Cards for all School Children Scheme continued in collaboration with the Education and Manpower Bureau to encourage primary school students to use library services. Regular meetings were held with school librarians on the provision of library services to support the school curriculum. The libraries continued to provide supporting services to the Project Yi Jin education programme and 15 of the public libraries housed course materials for the Open University of Hong Kong facilitating the pursuit of self-learning by many in the community. Plans were also underway to set up an Education Resource Centre at the Kowloon Public Library.

In January 2003, two new libraries were opened — a district library at Fanling and a small library in Fu Shan. Renovations to the Butterfly Estate Public Library were completed and the library was reopened in March. Plans were also in hand to open two new libraries at Tung Chung and Ma On Shan, a new mobile library, as well as the reprovisioning of the existing Tai Po Public Library to the new Tai Po Complex in 2004.

Children listening stories attentively at Fanling Public Library.
Children listening stories attentively at Fanling Public Library.

An Artwork on Loan pilot scheme was launched jointly with the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. Under the scheme, each reader is allowed to borrow two pieces of artwork and institutions up to five pieces for a loan period of 30 days from the Arts Resources Centre of the Hong Kong Central Library.

The new look of a refurbished mobile library.
The new look of a refurbished mobile library.

The year was also an important milestone in the development of mobile library services with three of the vehicles being refurbished. Each of them took on a new exterior design and provided access to the Online Public Access Catalogue to facilitate readers' search and reservation of library materials. The facelift for the remaining mobile libraries is scheduled for 2004.


Reference and Information Services

Reference and information services are provided at the Hong Kong Central Library and five major libraries (City Hall, Kowloon, Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun). The Central Reference Library at the Hong Kong Central Library has a total collection of 760,000 items, providing comprehensive reference and information services through its six subject departments. It features an extensive collection of electronic materials including CD-ROMs, on-line databases, electronic books, electronic journals and multimedia programmes, all of which are available for on-line access by the public. The library system also holds the depository collection of books registered under the Books Registration Ordinance and is designated as the depository library for nine international organisations such as the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank, the UNESCO, the United Nations and the European Union. During the year, the City Hall Reference Library was renovated and converted into a specialised reference library on business and industry subjects. A Creativity and Innovation Resource Centre was set up in November, under a joint project with the Creative Initiatives Foundation. The Centre aims to strengthen education in innovative and creative thinking and foster a deeper understanding of the potential of creativity to enrich the creative culture in Hong Kong. In the year under review, 3.91 million reference enquiries were handled by library staff.

Information for innovative and creative thinking at the Creativity and Innovation Resources Centre.
Information for innovative and creative thinking at the Creativity and Innovation Resources Centre.

In April, the department signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Basic Law Institute to set up a Basic Law Library at the City Hall Public Library. The library is scheduled to open in late 2004.


Information Technology Initiatives and Digital Library Initiatives

The Library Automation System of the public libraries is one of the world's largest computerised library systems with both Chinese and English capabilities. It provides 24-hour Internet library services for on-line searching, reservation and renewal of library materials. In 2003, 14.10 million items of library materials were renewed through the Internet and telephone renewal services. With the growing popularity of on-line public library services, the Hong Kong Public Libraries homepage (www.hkpl.gov.hk) was ranked sixth among the most popular websites in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Public Libraries homepage is very popular in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Public Libraries homepage is very popular in Hong Kong.

The launching of the government's new Hong Kong smart ID card in mid-2003 allowed the public libraries to provide residents with the option of using their smart ID cards as library cards to borrow, renew and reserve library materials. In addition, a number of computer terminals with Internet access have been installed with e-Cert compatible smart card readers to promote wider use of information technology and electronic services among the public. In December 2003, an e-mail notification service was introduced to enable registered readers to receive overdue and reservation notices through e-mail to improve service efficiency and economise on the use of paper. Plans were also in hand to install more self-charging terminals to further promote self-services in libraries.

The successful implementation of the Multimedia Information System (MMIS) was a watershed in the development of digital library services. MMIS provides audio and video on demand, on-line CD-ROM and reference resources, as well as searching and viewing of documents through workstations at the libraries and the Internet. The system was extended from the Hong Kong Central Library to 24 major and district libraries, which significantly expanded the MMIS network to a total of 592 workstations across Hong Kong. To further improve accessibility, the MMIS service hours on the Internet were extended to midnight from November. In January, the system joined the International Children's Digital Library's ICDL Books Project. This programme collects, in digital format, children's books and literature written and published in different countries and offers them free to readers worldwide through the Internet. In April, MMIS with its strong archival feature, joined UNESCO's Archives Portal, a website for archivists and researchers to study the history and culture of different nations around the world.

During the year, an e-Newsletter of the Hong Kong Public Libraries was introduced to provide the public with more convenient and speedy access to library news. It accepts on-line registration from the public for subscription to the library e-Newsletter.


Outreach Programmes: Promotion of Reading and Literary Arts

Outreach programmes form an integral part of library services. Regular programmes like children's hours, book displays and exhibitions, thematic talks and seminars, interest clubs and group visits were organised throughout the year. In line with the digital library initiative, user education programmes on teaching the public to use the Online Public Access Catalogue, on-line databases, CD-ROMs, MMIS and the Internet were also held regularly. In 2003, the libraries organised 15,248 library outreach programmes attracting an attendance of 16,044,363.

In addition to the year-round reading programme, a variety of reading-related activities was organised throughout the year to encourage people to read. A large-scale month-long reading promotion programme was organised during the summer holidays. The event included a children's poetry and rhyme exhibition and a series of children's reading programmes, such as musical drama, mini concerts, film shows, reading talks, storytelling sessions, poetry writing workshops, children and parents dramatisation competitions and a children's musical rhyme competition. As well, the Teens' Reading Clubs were extended from the Hong Kong Central Library and the five major libraries to 25 district libraries. A number of activities including talks on meet-the-author were held to support the reading clubs. These were met with enthusiastic response.

Apart from the regular block loan service — which provides books and audio cassettes to schools, not-for-profit organisations, rehabilitation and penal institutions, homes for the aged and the physically handicapped — a special mobile library loan programme was launched in collaboration with the Po Leung Kuk and the Education and Manpower Bureau to provide books to schools without library facilities.

The Ten Recommended Good Books programme is held to encourage reading.
The Ten Recommended Good Books programme is held to encourage reading.

The Ten Recommended Good Books programme continued to be held jointly with Radio Television Hong Kong for the 10th consecutive year. Moreover, with the aim of encouraging people to share books and support recycling, the Book Donation and Sale Campaign was held again in February, raising $677,000 for the Community Chest. The unsold books were donated to local schools and organisations.

The Book Donation and Sale Campaign aims at encouraging people to share books and support recycling.
The Book Donation and Sale Campaign aims at encouraging people to share books and support recycling.

Special programmes and large-scale competitions to promote creative writing and the appreciation and development of literary arts were held in 2003. The major programmes included the Chinese Poetry Writing Competition, the Competition on Story Writing in Chinese for Students, and the Hong Kong Biennial Awards for Chinese Literature jointly organised with the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. The winning entries were later published. The public libraries have so far published 99 Chinese literary books.


Cultural Exchange

The year saw the strengthening of co-operation with public libraries outside Hong Kong. A Memorandum of Understanding for co-operation on library development, resource sharing and professional staff training was signed with the Cologne Public Library in Germany.

The cultural link with libraries in the Mainland, especially the Greater Pearl River Delta, was also strengthened particularly in the areas of training, exchange of publications, library visits, reference services and the organisation of joint functions such as talks and exhibitions. During the year, 16 librarian staff from the Shenzhen Library were attached to the Hong Kong Public Libraries as part of a professional exchange programme.


Books Registration Office

The main functions of the Books Registration Office are to help preserve Hong Kong's literary heritage through the registration of local publications and to monitor the use of the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) system. A Catalogue of Books Printed in Hong Kong is published quarterly by the office in the Government Gazette, which can be accessed through the Internet. In 2003, the office registered a total of 13,075 books, 13,427 periodicals and 669 new publisher prefixes conforming to the ISBN.

 
 
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