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Cultural Services

Public Libraries

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 4.2 million registered borrowers, has a comprehensive collection comprising 11.4 million books and 1.74 million multimedia materials. During the year under review, users borrowed more than 55.54 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 2.59 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.

The 12-storey Hong Kong Central Library, the biggest library in the Hong Kong Public Libraries System, provides the public with a full range of library services.

The 12-storey Hong Kong Central Library, the biggest library in the Hong Kong Public Libraries System, provides the public with a full range of library services.

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 community and government representatives, meets regularly to advise the Government on HKPL’s overall development strategy.

District Council Co-management

In 2013-14, HKPL continued to work with District Councils (DCs) to develop district library services and organise activities to 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 3 500 regular extension activities and large-scale reading activities throughout the year. Examples of these activities are the summer reading programme Read more, Get more in Sham Shui Po; Tuen Mun Reading Festival 2013 – Reading for a Better Tomorrow; Summer Reading Fun in Sai Kung; the reading programme Science Applied in Kwai Tsing; Islands Story Month; and Under the Same Blue Sky – Getting to Know our Community in Kowloon City. 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 works projects carried out in 2013-14, the major ones were the upgrading or replacement of air-conditioning systems at 18 branch libraries to improve their indoor air quality.

New Libraries

A new library was opened during the year. In March 2014, the Pak Tin Public Library was re-provisioned to the Shek Kip Mei Estate Ancillary Facilities Block with enhanced services and facilities, and re-named the Shek Kip Mei Public Library.

The customer service counter in the Shek Kip Mei Public Library, newly opened in 2014.

The customer service counter in the Shek Kip Mei Public Library, newly opened in 2014.

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 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 has also been implemented in selected libraries on a pilot basis.

The HKPL also provides a wide range of online services through its website ( In 2013-14, more than 9.4 million visits to the library website (with 127 million hits) were recorded. In order to enhance public library services in the digital era, the website was revamped on March 31, 2014 and given a fresh new look. The new website features a modern layout and offers a more user-friendly interface through which members of the public can access online e-services and library materials, and enjoy the convenience of a ‘library without walls’.

To facilitate access to the wealth of information online, more than 1 900 computer workstations with Internet access have also been provided, and most of them have been equipped with self-service printing facilities and an Octopus payment option. Government Wi-Fi service is also available at all 67 static public libraries.

Self-service borrowing and renewal devices have made using the library more convenient than ever.

Self-service borrowing and renewal devices have made using the library more convenient than ever.

As HKPL’s digital library system, the Multimedia Information System (MMIS) had completed the major upgrade in early 2014 with service extended to all libraries exceeding 1 200 computer workstations. With its newly designed user interface, the system is a round-the-clock portal for one-stop searching of over 2.44 million pages of digitised materials including old Hong Kong newspapers, photos, house programmes and posters of the performing arts, maps, manuscripts, audio programmes, ebooks and online databases. Content recommendations such as ‘most popular’, ‘recently added’, ‘content highlight’, and ‘pick of the day’ have been provided to make browsing of the materials much easier. Users can explore the MMIS collections on the Internet or by using the efficient online service to book workstations at the Hong Kong Central Library and all 66 branch libraries.

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. 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 to meet users’ reference, self-study and life-long learning needs. The Reference Library is continually adding reference materials to the Hong Kong Collection and the Hong Kong Oral History Special Collection, as well as collecting heritage documents through regular Documents Collection Campaigns. 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. Most recently, in December 2013, the Tuen Mun Public Library launched a thematic ‘Food and Nutrition Collection’ to provide one-stop access to useful and up-to-date information on this field. These wide-ranging reference materials 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, HKPL handled 3.5 million enquiries.

HKPL provides 63 e-databases and 180 000 e-books. Registered members can access all e-books and 21 e-databases in the e-resources collection from home via the e-Resources thematic page on the HKPL portal. The remaining 42 e-databases are licensed for use at designated libraries during opening hours. The general databases are accessible at all public libraries while the specialised databases are accessible at the Reference Library of the Hong Kong Central Library and other major public libraries.

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 on a wide range of subjects. A total of 21 410 library outreach programmes were organised in 2013-14.

A variety of reading programmes and reading-related activities were organised to promote interest in reading on diverse subjects. They included 4.23 World Book Day Creative Competition in 2013, Love and Affection in Family, Meet-the-Authors 2013: Walking on the Path of Growth, Thematic Storytelling Workshop: Little Black Raven Loves Adventure, Summer Reading Month Exhibition: A Journey of Love, and subject talks on Cosmopolitan Hong Kong and Asian studies, as well as on art and culture subjects.

A student winner proudly displays her certificate at the prize presentation ceremony of the 4.23 World Book Day Creative Competition in 2013.

A student winner proudly displays her certificate at the prize presentation ceremony of the 4.23 World Book Day Creative Competition in 2013.

Students responded enthusiastically to a guided tour of the thematic exhibition of Summer Reading Month 2013.

Students responded enthusiastically to a guided tour of the thematic exhibition of Summer Reading Month 2013.

During the year, Teen Reading Clubs were set up at 33 libraries, and Family Reading Clubs at six major libraries. HKPL also joined other organisations to organise 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. One highlight was the 12th Hong Kong Biennial Awards for Chinese Literature, with related seminars conducted by local and overseas writers. 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

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.

Community Collaboration

As part of its promotion of lifelong learning, HKPL continued to collaborate with the Education Bureau on the Library Cards for All School Children Scheme, which encourages students to use public library services. Sixteen public libraries stock Open University of Hong Kong course materials which enable self-learning.

The Libraries@neighbourhood - Community Libraries Partnership Scheme provides community-based library services through 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 2013-14, 216 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 2013-14, the office registered a total of 14 229 books, 10 859 periodicals and 1 035 new publisher prefixes conforming to ISBN standards.