Friday, July 30, 2010

Today I went to the Charing Cross Library, a small public library in London. The library looks like many other public libraries with one notable exception--they have a very large collection of Chinese language materials. With a library card, patrons can check out books for free, while for materials like CDs, DVDs, and audio books there is a small fee. Other items in the collection included newspapers, magazines, a small CD and DVD collection, and a small (but packed) children's section. Near the circulation desk, they had a rack of pamphlets advertising local happenings, particularly those at the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, which are right across the street from the library.

Although the library is rather small, I was surprised to find that they had a small used bookshop to generate further revenue. This bookshop was composed of "ex-library stock" and included books, DVDs, and CDs in English as well as other languages. The library was also equipped with several public access computers, which required a library card in order to log on. Members can use the computers free of charge for one hour a day (the library limits access for more than an hour because of such high demand).

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