Saturday, December 24, 2005


There's this myth in the Shanghai expat community that the Shanghai Library is somehow real expensive to use. Over the past week, I set out to bust that myth, and was very pleasantly rewarded: not only is library membership insanely cheap, the library is also set in an incredibly beautiful building and equipped with a broad range of resources.

Besides a plethora of Chinese books and journals, there is an AV room equipped with personal viewing stations, an exhibition hall currently hosting a display on Chinese musicians, a newspaper room with hundreds of periodicals from all over China, a rare books library, a bookstore, a patent and law library, a net cafe, and cafeteria. The top floor is devoted to foreign language books, newspapers and journals. I was able to read the Los Angeles Times for the first time in months, albeit a two-week-old edition. Also the library has cheap-o self-produced brochures advertising their activities and departments, photocopied onto pastel colored paper just like libraries at home!

Here is the posted table of membership fees:

Shanghai Library Membership Fee Schedule
Membership LevelFeeDuration
普通外借功能 (Standard Check-out)RMB 10One year
临时阅览功能 (Temporary Reader)RMB 5One month
普通阅览功能 (Standard Reader)RMB 5One year
参考阅览功能 (Research Reader)RMB 25One year
参考外借功能 (Research Check-out)RMB 50One year

Standard membership has access to ordinary Chinese materials; check-out priveleges carry an RMB 100 deposit requirement. Research membership gives you access to extended materials, including foreign books, newspapers and magazines; check out priveleges carry an RMB 1000 deposit requirement. For my purposes—checking out Chinese materials, reading American papers—the Research Reader level was appropriate.

To get to the Shanghai Library, take the metro to Hengshan Rd, use Exit 2 and turn right down Gaoan Rd (高安路). Walk about 10 minutes and the library will be on your right.


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