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Public Libraries

The LCSD operates the Hong Kong Public Library (HKPL) network of 68 static and 12 mobile libraries. It also manages the Books Registration Office. The library system provides free library and information services to meet the community's needs for information, for 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 is moving forward by extending its services beyond library premises and fully embracing information technology. It is also increasing its range of stock, enhancing its reference and information services, and actively promoting good reading habits within the community. At the same time, it is promoting and preserving local documentary heritage. With 4.38 million registered borrowers, the HKPL stocks a comprehensive collection of 12.40 million books and 1.81 million multimedia materials. During the year under review, users borrowed more than 51.56 million books and other library materials from Hong Kong's 80 public libraries.

The Hong Kong Central Library is a major information and cultural centre, offering more than 2.64 million library materials items and a wide range of library facilities. Special features there include an arts resource centre, a multimedia information system, over 480 computer workstations providing access to the HKPL network and to various 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, and prominent community and government representatives, meets regularly to advise the Government on the HKPL's overall development strategy.

District Council Co-management

In 2015-16, the HKPL continued to work with the District Councils (DCs) to develop district library services and organise activities to meet the needs of local communities. Their efforts bore fruit in a range of community activities to promote reading, along with many projects aimed at enhancing library facilities and reading environments.

With the financial support of DCs, the HKPL organised more than 3 500 regular extension activities and large-scale reading activities throughout the year. Examples of these activities included the summer reading programme 'Po Po' Online in Sham Shui Po; the Tuen Mun Reading Festival 2015 – Delightful Reading for Life; Summer Reading Fun in Sai Kung; Read the World@Wong Tai Sin Community Libraries; Joyful Family Reading in Kwai Tsing; and Reading Carnival@Tung Chung in Islands District. Often co-organised with district organisations, these outreach activities helped boost the popularity of public libraries and encourage the reading habit.

To raise public interest in local history and culture, we also organised a variety of extension activities in partnership with community organisations. Examples included Historical and Cultural Footprint@Kwun Tong; Footprints in Kowloon City; A Walkthrough of the Yau Tsim Mong in Time; and Culture and History of Sai Kung District – Collection of Old Photos and Roving Exhibition.

DCs have also been active in enhancing library facilities and reading environments, both by initiating new projects and providing financial support for works to be carried out. Examples of projects undertaken and completed in 2015-16 included the upgrading and replacing of air-conditioning equipment, lighting and CCTV systems, as well as audio-visual and public address systems; the replacing of furnishings and wall murals; and the installation of power supply boxes for new mobile library stops.

New Library

In July 2015, the new Tiu Keng Leng Public Library opened to the public, a move that has significantly strengthened library services for the Tseung Kwan O area.

The Tiu Keng Leng Public Library occupies about 2 900 square metres.

Information Technology Initiatives and Digital Library Services

The Next Generation Integrated Library System offers comprehensive automated library services, including online services that enable 24-hour catalogue searching together with reservation and renewal of library materials. New convenient features allowing online renewal of overdue library materials and online payment of fines and fees have also been introduced.

To enrich the experience of mobile users, a new mobile HKPL website ( was launched during the year, together with a Single-Sign-On feature giving access to multiple online e-services through the library website. These initiatives have made library e-services, e-books and e-databases more accessible to users of mobile devices. The total number of downloads of the 'My Library' mobile app exceeded 186 000 for the year, a clear indication of the app's popularity.

Besides winning the Best Lifestyle (Learning & Living) Gold Award at the Hong Kong ICT Awards 2015, the HKPL's 'Library at your fingertips' (which includes the 'My Library' mobile app, the Multimedia Information System (MMIS) mobile app and the provision of e-resources) also won a Merit Award (Government and Public Sector) at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards 2015.

More than 1 900 computer workstations with Internet access have been provided in libraries, to make it easier for users to access online information. Most of the workstations are equipped with self-service printing facilities and an Octopus payment option. The free Government Wi-Fi service is also available at all 68 static public libraries.

The HKPL's digital library system, the Multimedia Information System (MMIS), delivers multimedia services at all libraries. With a user-friendly interface, the system acts as a round-the-clock portal for one-stop searching of over four million pages of digitised materials, including old Hong Kong newspapers, photos, house programmes and posters relating to the performing arts, maps, manuscripts, audio programmes, e-books and online databases. Users can explore the MMIS collections on the Internet, or by booking any of over 1 200 workstations at the Hong Kong Central Library and the other 67 static libraries. The Multimedia Information mobile app gives users access to the system's vast amounts of digitised content, including e-books, images, audio and video materials, anywhere and anytime.

Hong Kong Memory (HKM) is a multimedia website that gives free and open access to digitised materials on the historical and cultural heritage of Hong Kong, including text documents, photographs, posters, sound recordings, motion pictures and videos. As at March 2016, the HKM website made available 23 thematic collections, 20 virtual exhibitions and over 100 oral history records for public access.

During the year, more than 23.71 million virtual visits to the websites or online services of the HKPL were recorded.

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 the reference, self-study and life-long learning needs of users. The Reference Library is continually adding reference materials to the Collections, as well as collecting heritage documents through regular Document 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. The Tuen Mun Public Library also holds a thematic Food and Nutrition Collection that enables one-stop access to relevant information in this field. The Tsuen Wan Public Library focuses on a thematic Modern Living Collection to encourage public interest in green, healthy and stylish living. 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 also 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 3.41 million enquiries.

The HKPL provides 63 e-databases and 220 000 e-books. Registered members can access all e-books and 21 e-databases in the e-resources collection via the e-Resources page on the HKPL portal. The remaining 42 e-databases are licensed for use at designated libraries during opening hours. The general e-databases are accessible at all public libraries, while the specialised e-databases are accessible in the Reference Library of the Hong Kong Central Library and at other major public libraries.

Extension Activities and Promotion of Reading and the Literary Arts

Outreach programmes are integral parts of library services, and the libraries organised a wide range of such activities throughout the year, including storytelling programmes, book displays, exhibitions and community talks on many different subjects. A total of 21 480 library outreach programmes were organised in 2015-16.

Children and parents experience the joys of reading at an interactive storytelling workshop.

Several reading programmes and reading-related activities were organised to encourage reading on diverse subjects. Programmes held in the year included 4.23 World Book Day Creative Competition in 2015 - Read the World, Meet-the-Authors 2015: Reading‧Broadening Our Horizons, Thematic Storytelling Workshop: Tiny Snail and Big Whale Travelling Around the World, and Summer Reading Month Exhibition: Festivals of the World. Other talks, on Hong Kong Memory, Cosmopolitan Hong Kong and on art and culture topics, were also organised.

Student winners show off their certificates at the Prize Presentation Ceremony of the 4.23 World Book Day Creative Competition.
Attractive exhibits aimed at both parents and children were produced for the Summer Reading Month 2015 thematic exhibition.

During the year, Teen Reading Clubs were held at 36 libraries, and Family Reading Clubs at six major libraries and at the Hong Kong Central Library. The HKPL also joined with other organisations to organise territory-wide reading activities, such as the Reading Carnival.

Other special programmes and competitions were held throughout the year to promote creative writing and encourage appreciation of the literary arts. One highlight was the 13th Hong Kong Biennial Awards for Chinese Literature, with related seminars conducted by 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.

Winning writers at the prize presentation ceremony of the 13th Hong Kong Biennial Awards for Chinese Literature.

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.

Community Collaboration

As part of its promotion of lifelong learning, the 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, designed for self-learning.

The Libraries@neighbourhood - Community Libraries Partnership Scheme provides 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.

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 (ISBN) system. Every quarter it publishes A Catalogue of Books Printed in Hong Kong in the Government Gazette, also accessible online. In 2015-16, the office registered a total of 15 285 books, 9 993 periodicals and 948 new publisher prefixes conforming to ISBN.