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  Chinese Way>Life
Self-service School Library Cultivates Reading Habit



Tao Li, a 11th-grade student at Ningbo Yinzhou Senior School, walks into his school library, picks up three books and within 35 seconds, he has completed the entire process of borrowing the books at the book-lending machine.

"It's as easy as taking some books from the shelves of your own study," says Tao.

At Ningbo Yinzhou Senior School, staff and students have been borrowing books from the self-service school library since 2006.

The library recently received nationwide attention after several celebrities circulated some information about it on China's micro blog Weibo. Although the library does not have any security guard or surveillance camera, it has never lost a single book.

"We rely on the staff's and students' self-governance, and we believe that people in our school do not need to be watched over - it's a matter of trust," says Sun Long, the school's director of general affairs.

Wang Xianming, former principal of the high school, initiated the self-service library operation after noticing that very few students read.

He believed that a more open and free management style will trigger the students' interest in borrowing books. A self-service machine will also save cost.

"We also conduct surveys to find out what kind of books our staff and students are most interested in," says Qu Jiafu, head of the library.

Each year the school allocates 100,000 yuan to purchase new books. Currently, the library has a total collection of 80,000 books.

The most popular books are related to Confucianism, celebrity biographies and foreign language literature. Also popular are transcripts from lectures given at some of China's most prestigious universities, Tao says.

Liu Jiexi, a former student who is now studying in the UK, says the books in her high school's library helped her with her current studies.

"Without reading, acquisition of knowledge is limited to the classroom. The habit of reading that I cultivated in high school has helped me go through university, which requires heavy reading," says Liu.

Data shows that in 2011, the school's 1,600 students read an average of 12 books - higher than the average in high schools in Zhejiang province, which was eight.

"After Mo Yan became a Nobel laureate, I realized that I have only watched some films adapted from his novels but have not read any of his literary works," says student Tao Li.

Tao found some of Mo's works at the "recently acquired" shelf and immediately borrowed one.

At the orientation session of each new school year, students are introduced to the rules and self-service procedures at the school library to encourage them to use the facility, and to use it with integrity, according to Du Shihai, head of the high school.