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To Know More about Libraries in China--A Record of Exchange Program between Hangzhou Public Library and Milan Public Libraries




Guido ROSCI and Matteo Maria COLOMBO from Milan Public librarians were invited to China for two and half weeks. The exchange program was conducted smoothly in October 2017. As an exchange, 2 librarians of Hangzhou Public Library will be invited to Italy in 2018 as planned.



In October 2016, Stefano Parise, director of the Public Library System of Milan, was invited by Chu Shuqing, director of Hangzhou Public Library, to be a main speaker in 2016 Chinese Library Annual Conference, sharing his experience about public libraries and social cooperation in Milan. They informally discussed the idea of an exchange program between the two institutions. In July 2017, a cooperation agreement was finally approved and the exchange really started to take off.



How it went

On seeing the live data on the screen in the lobby, Guido and Matteo were curious about how the library conducted and why people loved to come over. We tried to reply their questions by organizing many interviews with different departments and visits to different branch libraries.


First, a series of innovative measures was introduced. From borrowing new books at bookstores to getting borrowed books delivered home, from borrowing books by smart phones to borrowing books using credit scores, all these services were new experiences from them. Taking On-line Joy Borrow Program as an example, it launched 10 months ago, and has reached the book-loan volume of over 70,000 books.


Secondly, Digital resource sharing was another of their interests. Digital Resource Co-share Programs was launched in 2015 to share our digital resources to schools in rural areas, and especially in some remote areas where extremely lack of education resources. Since how to solve digital-gap problem is a hot topic around the world, they also shared their experiences on promoting reading of digital books and resources.


Last but not least, the explorations of our branch libraries with different themes showed them how social cooperation highlighted. Engaging into the on-site sports experiences held by Sports Branch, Guido and Matteo marveled their experience of the indoor golf and archery in a library! Joining the activity with elementary school students in the aquarium with Environment Branch, they cherished more about our water environment.


What’s more, we extended the exchange beyond our library system. The communications with Zhejiang Provincial Library and Shanghai Library helped Guido and Matteo get an even deeper understanding of the whole library community in China.


We strongly believe the exchange program will help libraries and librarians to strengthen our ties with one another around the world. A quote from the IFLA Global Vision program explains it well “ together we create the future”.