British and Chinese library leaders to share knowledge in Chengdu

British and Chinese library leaders meeting at the UK-China Library Forum in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, 27-28 March 2019.
  • UK-China Library Forum meets in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, 27-28 March 2019
  • Leaders of ten UK public libraries, with the British Library, meet their counterparts from ten Chinese libraries to share knowledge, experience and best practice
  • Latest stage of the three-year HM Treasury-funded British Library in China: Connecting Through Culture and Learning programme

Public library leaders from China and the UK are to meet at the Sichuan Provincial Library and share knowledge in a two-day forum in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, at the end of March: the first such gathering of its kind.

Representatives from the Living Knowledge Network of UK public libraries and colleagues from ten members of the Library Society of China will meet to share their experiences and expertise in serving a wide range of audiences, and of harnessing new technology, creativity and innovation to improve their services to the public.

The Forum will provide a range of opportunities for participants to learn from one another, including presentations, workshops and networking. It will close with an evening public talk on how Shakespeare-themed events and exhibitions can be used by libraries to engage new audiences, drawing particularly on the experience of the British Library and Library of Birmingham’s collaborative 2016 Our Shakespeare exhibition, as well as British Council’s Shakespeare Lives campaign in China.

Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian at the British Library, said: “Libraries in China and the UK have a huge amount to learn from one another. Although our respective library networks have evolved in very different and distinctive ways, we share many core objectives in terms of connecting our users with knowledge in all its forms and using technology to increase the accessibility of our collections and services. We look forward to building our relationships with colleagues and institutions in China, and coming away with fresh perspectives on where libraries and librarianship should be heading next.”

WEI Dawei, the Deputy Director of National Library of China, said: ”Libraries play an important role in spreading knowledge. Exchange and cooperation between libraries from China and the UK can contribute to the further development of libraries in both countries. Such exchange and cooperation is of great significance to the mutual understanding of our history, cultures and values, and to sharing the achievements of our civilizations. With the advancement of modern information technology, librarianship also embraces new challenges and opportunities. I am very much looking forward to the exchange of ideas between library leaders from China and the UK in terms of ideas and practices in advancing innovation in libraries. I believe we will gain lots of fresh ideas and inspirations.” 

Cecille El Beleidi, Consul-General of British Consulate-General, Chongqing, said: “I commend the excellent initiative by the British Library to add structure, definition and direction to the many conversations and collaboration already happening between libraries in the UK and China by way of today’s forum. The culture exchange between the UK and China is hopefully to become richer and more diverse through libraries.”     

Chinese participants in the 2019 UK-China Library Forum include Shanghai Library, Zhejiang Library, Sichuan Library, Capital Library of China (Beijing), Guangzhou Library, Wuhan Library, Chengdu Library, Changchun Library, Shenzhen Children’s Library, Dongguan Library, . UK participants include library heads of service from Liverpool, Kirklees, Birmingham, Leeds, Edinburgh, Wakefield, Devon, Manchester, Sheffield and Suffolk, along with several staff and curators from the British Library.

The Forum is the latest stage of an ambitious three-year cultural exchange programme, The British Library in China: connecting through culture and learning, which has seen exhibitions at the National Library of China in Beijing, at Mu Xin Art Museum in Wuzhen, and at Shanghai Library. Most recently, the programme staged events relating to Oscar Wilde, exciting British Library projects and the digital humanities at a number of venues in Hong Kong. 

The initiative is funded by HM Treasury and also includes a programme of knowledge exchange between staff at the British Library and its counterparts in China. It has also developed the Library’s first Chinese website Discovering Literature, introducing more than 200 digitised literary treasures from the Library’s literary collections, as well as in-depth interpretative articles, short films and interactive elements: The Library has also grown its audience across China on its new social media platforms WeChat and Weibo.


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Notes to Editors

1.  In January 2015, the British Library published its new strategy, Living Knowledge, which has at its heart the mission to make its intellectual heritage available to everyone, for research, inspiration and enjoyment.

The Living Knowledge Network is an innovative partnership in response to the British Library’s mission with 22 major libraries across the UK, and in partnership with the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales. Together we will share resources, skills and ideas, promoting the enduring values of libraries in the twenty-first century and reinforcing the idea of the library as a transformative and accessible public asset. 

The Living Knowledge Network brings together public and national libraries in a new way.  It builds upon local expertise and national convening power to develop mutually supportive partnerships. 

2.  The Library Society of China (LSC), formerly known as the Chinese Library Association, was established in 1925. It is a national, academic and non-profit social organization, consisting of a voluntary group of staff members from libraries and relevant industries and institutions in China. It is a member of the China Association for Science and Technology, and a National Association Member of International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)  The 9th Council of LSC consists of five committees and 12 branches, forming a comprehensive academic exchange system centred on the Chinese Library Annual Conference and focusing on activities include Youth Academic Forum, the China County Librarian Forum and Enhancement Program for Minors. LSC actively promotes “Reading for All”, and organizes a series of events celebrating 4·23 World Book Day. It is responsible for editing and publishing of Journal of Library Science in ChinaChina Library Yearbook and other professional publications. It has developed a continuing education system, a membership management and service platform, and established various prizes to encourage and reward outstanding talents dedicated to the improvement of libraries and library services in China. 

3.  The National Library of China (NLC) serves as the repository of the nation's publications, a national bibliographic center, a national center for preservation and conservation of ancient books, as well as the national museum of ancient books. The major responsibility of the NLC includes: the collection and preservation of domestic and foreign publications; national coordination of document preservation and conservation work; provision of information and reference services to the central government, national authorities, social organizations, and the general public; research in the theory of library sciences and development of librarianship, and guidance to other libraries in China; the fulfillment of its function in international cultural exchanges through participation in the activities of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and other related international organizations, as well as the promotion of exchanges and cooperation with other libraries in China and abroad.

For more information:

Ben Sanderson
The British Library
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