The LCSD operates the HKPL network of 67 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 demand for knowledge, information, research and recreation, and to support lifelong learning. The HKPL promotes reading and the literary arts, and offers library extension activities for people of all ages.
The HKPL network, with 4.1 million registered borrowers, has a comprehensive collection comprising 11.36 million books and 1.74 million multimedia materials. During the year under review, users borrowed more than 55.15 million books and other library materials from Hong Kong’s 77 public libraries.
The Hong Kong Central Library is a major information and cultural centre, offering more than 2.55 million items of library materials and a wide range of other facilities. Special features there include an arts resource centre, a multimedia information system, over 480 computer workstations providing access to the HKPL network as well as online electronic resources, 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 1 540 square metre exhibition gallery, a 290-seat lecture theatre, two activity rooms, a music practice room, and eight discussion rooms.
Public Libraries Advisory Committee
The Public Libraries Advisory Committee, comprising professionals, academics, prominent citizens and government representatives, meets regularly to advise the Government on the HKPL’s overall development strategy.
District Council Review
In 2012-13, Hong Kong’s public libraries continued to work with District Councils (DCs) to develop district library services and organise activities that would meet the needs of local communities. Their efforts bore fruit with a growing diversity of community involvement activities to promote reading, and a wide variety of projects to enhance library facilities and reading environments.
With the financial support of DCs, we organised more than 3 400 regular extension activities and large-scale reading activities throughout the year. Examples of these activities are the summer reading programme Touring around Sham Shui Po with ‘Po Po’ in Sham Shui Po; the Reading and Creative Scheme 2012 in Tuen Mun; Summer Reading Fun in Sai Kung; and Reading @ Tung Chung – Musical Story Theatre. Often co-organised with district organisations, these outreach activities helped boost the popularity of our public libraries and promote the reading habit.
To further foster a reading culture in the community, we organised a variety of reading ambassador programmes in partnership with schools and local organisations. Examples include the Library Ambassadors Programme for primary students in Southern District; the Community Reading Ambassadors Programme for youth volunteers and parents in Tuen Mun; and the READ Ambassadors Programme for parents in Sai Kung.
DCs have also been actively enhancing library facilities and reading environments by initiating projects and providing financial support. Among the work projects carried out in 2012-13 the major ones were upgrading or replacement of air-conditioning systems at 18 branch libraries for improving their indoor air quality.
Two new libraries were opened in 2013. In February 2013, a new major library was opened in the Ping Shan Tin Shui Wai Leisure and Cultural Building to replace the temporary district library at Kingswood Ginza, Tin Shui Wai. In March 2013, the Lam Tin Public Library was re-provisioned and upgraded as a district library, significantly enhancing library services in the Kwun Tong District.
The Ping Shan Tin Shui Wai Public Library was opened on February 28, 2013, which also marked the milestone of the Hong Kong Public Libraries moving into its 50th anniversary. Covering a floor area of 6 100 square metres, the Library is the second largest public library in Hong Kong in terms of floor size after the Hong Kong Central Library. In addition to its enhanced facilities and services for adults and children, the Ping Shan Tin Shui Wai Public Library provides a dedicated library for young adults, a user education hall, an exhibition hall, and an outdoor reading environment.
New Initiatives in Library Services
The HKPL network is moving forward by extending its services beyond its library premises, increasing its range of stock, enhancing its reference and information services, fully embracing information technology, and actively promoting good reading habits within the community.
Information Technology Initiatives and Digital Library Services
The Next Generation Integrated Library System launched at the end of 2011 is one of the world’s largest computerised library systems. It offers comprehensive automated library services, including 24-hour online library services which provide catalogue searching, reservation and renewal of library materials. Application of Radio Frequency Identification technology to our library operations was also implemented in selected libraries on a pilot basis.
The HKPL also provides a wide range of online services through its website (www.hkpl.gov.hk). In 2012-13, more than 128 million visits to the website were recorded. A new library website with a single centralised sign-on feature is being developed with a view to better promoting our extensive and diversified library services, and improving this access gateway to all the library’s online services.
To facilitate access to the wealth of information online, more than 100 Internet Express Terminals have been installed in branch libraries, most of which have a motorised height-adjustment feature to meet the needs of different patrons. More than 1 800 computer workstations with Internet access have also been provided. Government Wi-Fi service is also available at all 67 static public libraries. Starting from March 2013, a new “Print with Ease” service was launched that provides a more efficient and user-friendly self-printing service.
By utilising the sophisticated one-stop search capability of the Multimedia Information System (MMIS), users can explore multimedia archives online or through any of the 600 workstations at the Hong Kong Central Library and 27 major and district libraries. Instant online access is also available to a wide variety of digital collections, including old photos, old newspapers, manuscripts, house programmes, posters and audio programmes. A major upgrade of the MMIS is now in full swing; its aim is to enhance the accessibility of the MMIS service by extending the system to all 67 of the HKPL’s static libraries and providing 24-hour online service. It will also include enhanced navigation capabilities for MMIS workstations, and an online booking service for audio-visual materials. The project is targeted for completion in 2013.
Reference and Information Services
Reference and information services are available at the Hong Kong Central Library and six other major libraries – City Hall, Kowloon, Ping Shan Tin Shui Wai, Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun public libraries. The Reference Library at the Hong Kong Central Library has six subject departments with a collection of over one million reference material items and a wide range of electronic resources, including 60 online databases and 140 000 e-books. Registered members can access all e-books and 14 online databases in the e-resource collection from home via the Internet. The Reference Library continually adds reference materials to the Hong Kong Collection and the Hong Kong Oral History Special Collection. It also houses the depository collections of nine international organisations.
Specialised reference services are available from the Arts Resource Centre, the Hong Kong Literature Room and the Map Library in the Hong Kong Central Library. The City Hall Public Library offers specialised reference services through its Business and Industry Library, its Creativity and Innovation Resource Centre, and the Basic Law Library. The Kowloon Public Library provides specialised resources and services through its Education Resource Centre. The Sha Tin Public Library hosts a thematic collection and a webpage providing sports and fitness resources. This wide range of reference and thematic resources are promoted through workshops, library visits and subject talks, in collaboration with the Education Bureau, academics, and NGOs involved in specific areas.
The Hong Kong Central Library operates a referral service by which registered users can access the collections of the University of Hong Kong Libraries.
During the year, the HKPL handled 3.68 million enquiries.
Extension Activities and Promotion of Reading and the Literary Arts
Outreach programmes are an integral part of library services, and our libraries organised a wide range of such activities throughout the year, including storytelling programmes, book displays, exhibitions and community talks. A total of 20 608 library outreach programmes were organised in 2012-13.
The HKPL marked its 50th anniversary in 2012, with thematic programmes highlighting its mission of promoting reading and lifelong learning among citizens for a better cultural life. Events included 4.23 World Book Day Creative Competition, Summer Reading Month, Meet-the-Authors Talks, Paired Reading Talks, and the Thirteen Hongs of Canton: selected pictures and documents exhibition jointly organised with the Sun Yat-sen Library of Guangdong Province.
A variety of reading programmes and reading-related activities were also organised to promote interest in different aspects of reading. They included 4.23 World Book Day Creative Competition in 2012, Read • Enriching Our World, Meet-the-Authors 2012: Reading the Life of ..., Thematic Storytelling Workshop: The Adventure of ‘Small Ears’, Summer Reading Month Exhibition: Joyful Reading • Library, subject talks on Cosmopolitan Hong Kong, and subject talks on the development of today’s China.
During the year, Teen Reading Clubs were set up at 33 libraries, and Family Reading Clubs at five major libraries. Public Libraries also joined other organisations to hold territory-wide reading activities, such as the Reading Carnival.
Many other special programmes and competitions were held throughout the year to promote creative writing and encourage the appreciation and development of the literary arts. The 9th Hong Kong Literature Festival, a major literary event, presented a variety of literary programmes conducted by both local and overseas scholars and writers. The festival has become a focal point for literary enthusiasts in the territory. Other major creative writing competitions in the year included the Chinese Poetry Writing Competition and the Competition on Story Writing in Chinese for Students.
Book Drop Service
The HKPL continued to provide a book-drop service at three major MTR interchange stations, namely Central, Kowloon Tong and Nam Cheong, making it convenient for readers to return borrowed library materials while out and about.
As part of its promotion of lifelong learning, the HKPL continued to collaborate with the Education Bureau in the Library Cards for All School Children Scheme, which encourages students to use public library services. Sixteen public libraries stock the Open University of Hong Kong course materials which enable self-learning.
The Libraries@neighbourhood community library partnership scheme is designed to provide community-based library services in collaboration with non-profit local community organisations. These organisations are offered block loans of library materials together with professional advice on setting up community libraries tailored to their target audiences. By the end of 2012-13, 206 community libraries had been established.
Books Registration Office
The Books Registration Office helps preserve Hong Kong's literary heritage by registering local publications and monitoring the effective use of the International Standard Book Number system. Every quarter it publishes A Catalogue of Books Printed in Hong Kong in the Government Gazette, also accessible online. In 2012-13, the office registered a total of 14 564 books, 11 349 periodicals and 1 119 new publisher prefixes conforming to ISBN.