Cultural Services

Public Libraries

The LCSD operates the Hong Kong Public Libraries (HKPL), a library network comprising 66 static and 10 mobile libraries. It also manages the Books Registration Office. The library system provides free library and information services to meet the community's need for knowledge, information, research and recreation and to support lifelong learning and continuous education. It promotes reading and the literary arts and offers library extension activities to people of all ages.

The HKPL has 3.69 million registered borrowers and a comprehensive collection of library materials, including 10.77 million books and 1.62 million multimedia materials. More than 59.93 million books and other library materials were borrowed from Hong Kong's 76 public libraries during the year.

The Hong Kong Central Library is a major information and cultural centre, offering a total stock of 2.3 million items and providing a wide range of facilities. Special features include an arts resource centre and a multimedia information system, a central reference library with six subject departments, a Hong Kong literature room, a map library, a language learning centre, a young adult library and a toy library. Facilities are also available for hire, including a 1 500-square-metre exhibition gallery, a 290-seat lecture theatre, two activity rooms, a music practice room and eight discussion rooms.

In addition to hosting regular cultural activities and talks, the Hong Kong Central Library also organised a wide range of large-scale cultural and scholarly talks throughout the year, including Subject Talk on Cosmopolitan Hong Kong, Explore the World of Medicine: Public Lecture Series 2008, Subject Talk Series on Life & Death Education: Four Seasons of Life, Public Lectures on History and Business in China 2008-09, Talks on China 2008, 'New Vision in the 21st Century' Subject Talk Series 2008: The Young Outstanding Persons' Discourse on Multiple Quotient and Outstanding Achievement and Public Lectures on Asian Studies 2008.

Professors from the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong were invited to give a presentation during the Explore the World of Medicine: Public Lecture Series 2008 to inform the public of state-of-the-art medical knowledge and the latest research achievements.

Public Libraries Advisory Committee

In line with the recommendations of the Committee on Libraries' Report 2007, the Home Affairs Bureau announced in May 2008 that it was setting up a Public Libraries Advisory Committee to advise the Government on the overall development strategy of the HKPL. Members of this Committee include professionals, academics, community personalities and government representatives, and their appointment will be for two years: from May 1, 2008 to April 30, 2010.

District Council Review

Since the District Council (DC) Management scheme was implemented on January 1, 2008 for 75 libraries, with the exception of the Hong Kong Central Library and the Basic Law Library, a number of projects have been initiated to better meet the needs and aspirations of local residents. These include the trial extension of opening hours at the Smithfield Public Library, a relocation plan for the Butterfly Estate Public Library, a review and strengthening of mobile library services in Kwai Tsing, Tai Po and North District, and the setting up of additional community libraries under the Community Libraries Partnership Scheme.

Financed by DC funds, more than 3 000 extension activities, including storytelling, subject talks and workshops for different age groups, were organised throughout the year. To promote reading in local communities, a variety of activities were also organised in collaboration with the DCs and local organisations, such as the Olympic Storytelling Workshop and Summer Reading Programme in Sham Shui Po, Summer Reading Month in Wong Tai Sin, Vote for Good Books for Children and Youths and Creative Book Report Writing in Tuen Mun, and the Enjoy Reading in Sha Tin Carnival in Sha Tin. Some of these activities were new initiatives to enhance outreach programmes and bring public libraries to local communities and were, accordingly, held in shopping malls, community centres or District community libraries.

The 2008 Sham Shui Po Summer Reading Programme was held in collaboration with community libraries in Sham Shui Po and comprised a series of storytelling hours to promote an interest in reading amongst children.

The involvement of the DCs has brought a new dimension to Hong Kong's public library services. One prominent example is the extension of the opening hours of 33 major and district libraries from April 2009 to provide the public with seven-day-a-week library services.

Community Libraries

Libraries@neighbourhood is a community libraries partnership scheme designed to provide community-based library services in collaboration with non-profit-making local community organisations. Participating organisations are offered a block loan of library materials and professional advice to set up community libraries that meet the needs of their target clients. By the end of 2008-09, 104 community libraries had been set up.

New Initiatives in Library Services

The HKPL is making a dedicated effort to improve its service to the public by enhancing its library stock, reference and information services, and use of information technology, and by promoting good reading habits in the community. Renovation work to enhance the library services and facilities of seven libraries, including the Sha Tin Public Library, the Lockhart Road Public Library, the Shui Wo Street Public Library, the Fa Yuen Street Public Library, the To Kwa Wan Public Library, the Quarry Bay Public Library and the Ngau Tau Kok Public Library, was completed in 2008.

Self-charging terminals have been installed at the Sha Tin Public Library to meet increased demand for the circulation of library materials. Readers can now conveniently borrow or renew publications on their own.

The year also saw the launch of the Sports & Fitness Collection at the Sha Tin Public Library in August 2008. This thematic collection aims to promote public awareness of the attainment of healthy living through sport and exercise and to help amateurs, professionals and the general public enhance their sporting skills and physical fitness through access to library resources. The initial collection comprises some 11 000 items, including books, reports, magazines, multimedia resources, databases, e-books and news clippings, and such extension activities as subject talks, roving book exhibitions, Summer Reading Month 2008 and the Olympic Book Corners at the Olympic Live Sites were also held throughout the year to promote reading on sports and fitness topics. A specially designed Sports and Fitness Information Website provides a one-stop information centre for readers to check out, reserve or renew the Collection's library materials and/or access the 'Ask A Librarian' service to make enquiries about relevant subjects.

The Sports & Fitness Collection at the Sha Tin Public Library serves as the focal point of the Hong Kong Public Libraries' promotion of health and fitness.

To promote and support lifelong learning, Hong Kong's public libraries continue to work in collaboration with the Education Bureau to encourage primary school students to use public library services by offering the Library Cards for All School Children Scheme. Regular meetings were held with school librarians during the year to foster mutual understanding and support the utilisation of library resources for teaching and learning, as well as organising reading activities.

Open University of Hong Kong course materials are also available in 16 public libraries to facilitate the public's pursuit of self-learning.

Reference and Information Services

Reference and information services are available at the Hong Kong Central Library and five other major libraries ------- the City Hall, Kowloon, Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun public libraries. The Central Reference Library at the Hong Kong Central Library has six subject departments with a total collection of 970 000 items and a wide-ranging collection of electronic resources, including databases, e-books, e-journals and multimedia materials. The Library also holds a permanent collection of books on Hong Kong and the depository collections of nine international organisations.

Specialised reference services are provided at the Arts Resource Centre, the Hong Kong Literature Room and the Map Library of the Hong Kong Central Library. In addition, the City Hall Public Library offers specialised reference services through its Business and Industry Library, Creativity and Innovation Resource Centre and Basic Law Library. The Kowloon Public Library provides specialised resources and services through its Education Resource Centre. During the year, a total of 4 million enquiries were handled by the HKPL.

To further support the public's research needs, the Hong Kong Central Library introduced a referral service in May 2007 to allow registered library users to access the collections of all University of Hong Kong Libraries.

Information Technology Initiatives and Digital Library Services

The HKPL's Library Automation System is one of the world's largest computerised library systems with both Chinese and English capabilities. It provides 24-hour Internet library services, including online catalogue searching and the reservation and renewal of library materials. The HKPL also provides a wide range of online services through its website (, which recorded more than 134 million visits in 2008-09.

During the course of the year, more than 80 additional or upgraded computer workstations with Internet access were installed to promote the wider use of information technology. Moreover, some 150 multimedia workstations were upgraded with Internet access to facilitate online learning by junior users at branch libraries.

Wi-Fi service has been available in all 66 static public libraries since November 2008.

The Multimedia Information System (MMIS) has opened up new realms of information retrieval by offering the public instant access to a wide variety of digital documents and audio and video programmes. It provides a powerful and sophisticated one-stop search facility that enables library users to explore multimedia archives via the Internet or through any of the 600 workstations at the Hong Kong Central Library or the 26 major and district libraries. A major upgrade of the MMIS based on the latest technology is currently underway, with completion expected in mid-2012.

Extension Activities and the Promotion of Reading and Literary Arts

Outreach programmes form an integral part of library services, and Hong Kong's libraries continued to organise a balanced mix of activities throughout the year, including storytelling programmes, book displays, exhibitions and community talks. In total, 20 270 library outreach programmes were offered in 2008-09.

A variety of reading programmes and reading-related activities were also organised to promote reading amongst, and sustain the reading interest of, library users. The annual Summer Reading Month was held from July to August to attract children's interest and promote family reading. The 2008 programme featured the theme 'A Cultural Voyage Around the World', the highlight of which was an exhibition that integrated the world's different cultures with a sporting backdrop to convey global unity inspired by the Olympic spirit.

A child enjoys reading in the reading corner of the thematic exhibition 'A Cultural Voyage Around the World' during Summer Reading Month 2008.

Teen Reading Clubs were formed at 31 major and district libraries during the year, with Family Reading Clubs set up at four major libraries. Meet-the-Authors 2008 sessions were organised thematically to enhance young people's reading experience. To tie in with the 4.23 World Book Day, and in celebration of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, the HKPL organised a school-wide competition on creative writing and a collage design based on the theme 'Sports and I', which aimed to enrich the Olympic spirit through reading and creative activities while also promoting the universal and cultural values conveyed by the Games.

Readers share their views with authors during the Meet-the-Authors 2008 sessions.

Many other special programmes and competitions were held to promote creative writing and encourage the appreciation and development of the literary arts. The 7th Hong Kong Literature Festival, for example, showcased literary talent and promoted creative writing and literary appreciation amongst the public. Other major creative writing competitions included the Awards for Creative Writing in Chinese in 2008, the 18th Chinese Poetry Writing Competition and the Competition on Story Writing in Chinese for Students in 2008.

Officiating guests and awardees attend the Awards for Creative Writing in Chinese in 2008 ceremony.

A variety of cultural programmes were held throughout the year to tie in with the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, including the Olympic Stories Series: Enlightening your Soul, creative competitions on 'Sports and I' in conjunction with 4.23 World Book Day 2008, roving exhibitions on the 2008 Olympic & Paralympic Games ------- Equestrian Events and Fitness for the Olympic Games, a popular science talk on 'The Olympic Series: Sports & Science', Talk Series: Olympics & Philosophy, a special 2008 Summer Reading Programme activity for children and students entitled Light Your Reading Passion, and Olympic Book Corners at the Olympic Live Sites. All of these programmes were designed to boost the cultural spirit of Hong Kong's people in line with the Olympic spirit.

Parents and children participate in the Olympic Stories Series: Enlightening your Soul activities, organised to boost cultural and Olympic spirit.

Books Registration Office

The Books Registration Office helps to preserve Hong Kong's literary heritage through the registration of local publications, and monitors the effective use of the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) system. It publishes 'A Catalogue of Books Printed in Hong Kong' in the Government Gazette on a quarterly basis, and this Catalogue can be accessed through the Internet. In 2008-09, the Office registered a total of 12 767 books, 13 484 periodicals and 825 new publisher prefixes conforming to the ISBN.
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