Libraries are key destinations to check out in a new city. They are usually clean, comfortable, and relaxing spots to pass a few hours or do any studying, reading, and computer work. Really great libraries through their architecture, collections, and activities reflect the history, culture, and character of the cities and communities they serve. 2015 saw Chengdu’s library scene improve enormously with the relocation and expansion of the Wuhou District library and the opening of the Sichuan Provincial library near Tianfu Square in December.
Wuhou District Library
The Wuhou Library used to be near the Roman Holiday Plaza on the south first ring. We were sad when it vacated this convenient central spot, but we actually visit the place more now that we have to make the trek over to Hong Pai Lou. The new Wuhou Library occupies the seventh to ninth floors of a building that also houses the Wuhou District Cultural Centre. The seventh floor has a calligraphy area, periodicals, some traditional instruments like guzheng, a large children’s section and movie and play areas. There are a few English books in the children’s section, but they are not all in one location; the staff can find them if asked. The English book section upstairs has its own collection of children’s titles. Foreigners can get a library card easily, which allows them to borrow books for up to a month and enables them to attend the free events and programs like movies, storytelling and crafts for kids.
The eighth floor has several shelves of randomly organized English books. There are office style study rooms, WiFi, hot water, clean washrooms, a coffee machine, and retro-futuristic audio chairs that plug in with a standard headphone jack so that you can watch or listen to media without disturbing the other patrons. There are phone booths so that phone conversations can be held without disturbing others too. There is even exercise equipment in the corners so that you can jump on a stationary bike, elliptical or do a set of crunches in between chapters. The windows surrounding the space open up the area to the city, and it’s a pretty great place to get some work done or kill a few hours with a novel.
Opening Time: Mon 1:30pm – 9pm; Tues to Sun 9:30am – 9pm
Address: 7-9floors, No. 11, Jiuxing Road九兴大道11号7楼-9楼
Sichuan Provincial Library
The Sichuan Provincial Library just northwest of Tianfu square opened up in late December and is already quite busy. It’s an impressive building with a map of the province in marble on the floor in the foyer and eight levels surrounding the central open space. The security staff take their responsibilities very seriously at the entrance; you will have to scan your belongings when you go in and the guards are polite but very insistent that large bags have to be placed in the lockers. Planning ahead is recommended in case you need to, say, use the washroom while carrying a laptop, tablet, phone, any charging cords, and books by hand. Most of the visitors when we dropped in were checking the place out, but the study tables with plentiful lighting and electric outlets were filled with people reading and studying. Many of the windows have a good view of Tianfu Square across the street.
We checked out the electronic card catalog and found it has both a Chinese and English interface. We were impressed with the collection of ethnic language literature that represents the local minorities. Foreigners can use a passport to get a library card and borrow books from the circulating collection for up to one month, but the foreign languages section on the sixth floor was not yet open when we visited in January. They plan to have it going sometime after Spring Festival. This library is an impressive addition to the centre.
Opeing Time: 9am – 5pm til April 23rd, 9am – 8:30pm after April 23rd