Libraries and Librarianship in China

Libraries and Librarianship in China

Libraries and Librarianship in China

Libraries and Librarianship in China

Synopsis

This book discusses the development of library and information services in China and the effect of the nation's political and social conditions on that develpment. The author briefly reviews the history of Chinese libraries and librarianship, then describes Chinese library services in the first half of the 20th century. The remarkable consequences of the ideological change after the Communist takeover are described in a concise manner, but the focus of this book is the massive modernization movement that has taken place since 1978.

Excerpt

The road traveled by Chinese libraries and librarianship has been long and sometimes arduous. the earliest form of libraries was imperial archives and depositories; later ones were book storage of more general writings. in recent years, full-fledged libraries of all types, controlled and supported by all levels of government, have been open to the general public. And, finally, libraries are now offering a broad range of technology-based information services. Each stage in this evolution has been reflected in the changing nature of the holdings, clientele, roles, and function of Chinese libraries and librarianship.

The earliest records of holdings, dating from about 1400 B.C. in the Western calendar, were scripted bones and shells. Then came manuscripts, next, printed materials—moveable type was used in China much earlier than in the rest of the world—and, much more recently, electronic resources and other nonprint media.

The first library clients were royalty and other highly privileged classes. Later, library resources were made more widely available, first to court scholars and literati, then gradually, to the general public, among them college students and school children in the villages, and, in modern times, information seekers from the economic and industrial sector. in parallel, libraries fulfilled various purposes over their long history. They have been a repository for historical and cultural artifacts, a means of supporting leisurely literary pursuits as well as general education, an instrument to bring about social changes, and increasingly, an important force in the market economy. Thus, the role of libraries evolved from serving the needs of emperors and their officials to enlightening and informing

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