The LCSD operates the Hong Kong Public Library System which comprises
70 public libraries, including eight mobile libraries. It also manages
the Books Registration Office. The Public Library System provides
free public library services to meet community needs for information,
research, informal education and the profitable use of leisure time.
The aim is to promote reading and the literary arts and support
The libraries have a comprehensive library collection
of 8.98 million books and 1.19 million multimedia materials and
a total of 2.97 million registered borrowers. In 2003, 58.62 million
items of library materials were borrowed from the libraries and
3.91 million reference enquiries were handled by staff, representing
an increase of 10.04 per cent and 3.97 per cent, respectively, over
Since its opening in May 2001, the Hong Kong Central Library has
developed into a major information and cultural centre in Hong Kong.
Occupying a gross floor area of 33 800 square metres
with a total stock of 1.82 million items, the 12-storey building
provides a wide range of facilities. Special features include a
Multimedia Information System, a Central Reference Library with
six subject departments, an Arts Resource Centre, Hong Kong Literature
Room, Basic Law Reference Collection Room, Map Library, Language
Learning Centre, Young Adult Library and a Toy Library. There are
also hiring facilities including a 1 500 square-metre
Exhibition Gallery, a 293-seat Lecture Theatre, two
Activity Rooms, a Music Practice Room and a number of Discussion
Rooms. On average, the Hong Kong Central Library is visited by about
16 000 users daily.
In addition to regular cultural activities
and subject talks, a wide range of notable events was organised
region-wide during the year. The 'Distinguished Contemporary Chinese
Scientists Seminar', which was a joint programme with the China
Association for Science and Technology and the Beijing-Hong Kong
Academic Exchange Centre, was held in October, attracting an audience
of over 800 and many others on the Internet through live webcasting.
The Exhibition on Heinrich Boll: Life and Work, featuring
photographs, manuscripts, awards and newspaper clippings concerning
the winner of the 1972 Nobel Prize for Literature was jointly presented
with the Cologne Public Library in Germany.
The Exhibition on a Tribute to Heritage:
Discovering Hong Kong's Culture and Tradition, which was co-organised
by the Hong Kong Museum of History and the Antiquities and Monuments
Office, showcased over 100 cultural pieces. The Music Encounter:
Exhibition of Ng Tai-kong's Works presented a collection of
the works of this renowned music master, donated by his descendants.
To promote public awareness and research in local history, the Exhibition
on Treasure of Literature was organised with a display of over
280 pieces of historical documents selected from the 70 000
items collected by the library through the Documents Collection
Campaign. The Exhibition on Guqin Culture highlighted the
development of qin music and its culture, and displayed 20 rare
examples of qin instruments.
The Hong Kong Public Libraries system has made dedicated efforts to
improve service to the public through enrichment of library stock and
reference and information services, use of information technology, promotion
of reading habits in the community as well as enhancement of the accessibility
of public library services.
With the expansion of the library stock and of the
number of patrons, a total of 58.62 million items of library materials
were borrowed from the public libraries, an increase of 10.04 per cent
The public libraries continued to promote and support
lifelong learning in the community. The 'Library Cards for all School
Children' Scheme was continued in collaboration with the Education and
Manpower Bureau to encourage primary school students to use library services.
Regular meetings were held with school librarians on the provision of
library services to support the school curriculum. Moreover, public libraries
continued to provide supporting services to the Project Yi Jin education
programme and 15 public libraries stocked course materials of the Open
University of Hong Kong, facilitating the pursuit of self-learning by
many in the community. Plans were also under way to set up an Education
Resource Centre at the Kowloon Public Library.
In January, two new libraries were opened: a full-scale
district library in Fanling and a small library in Fu Shan. Plans were
in hand to open two more new libraries in Tung Chung and Ma On Shan and
a new mobile library, as well as to reprovision the existing Tai Po Public
Library in leased premises to the new Tai Po Complex in 2004.
An 'Artwork on Loan' Scheme was launched jointly
with the Hong Kong Arts Development Council which allowed each reader
to borrow two pieces of artwork and institutions to borrow a maximum of
five pieces of artwork for a loan period of 30 days from the Arts Resources
Centre of the Hong Kong Central Library.
Reference and information services are provided at the Central Library
and the five major libraries — the City Hall, Kowloon, Sha Tin,
Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun Public Libraries. The Central Reference Library
has a total collection of 760 000 items, providing comprehensive reference
and information services through its six subject departments. It features
a comprehensive collection of electronic materials including CD-ROMs,
online databases, electronic books, electronic journals and multimedia
programmes, all of which are available for online access by the public.
The library also holds the depository collection of books required under
the Books Registration Ordinance. During the year, a total of 3.91 million
reference enquiries were handled by library staff.
During the year, the City Hall Reference Library
was renovated into a specialised reference library in business and industry
subjects and further enhanced with the setting up of the Creativity and
Innovation Resource Centre in November, a joint project with the Creative
Initiatives Foundation. The centre helped further strengthen education
in innovative and creative thinking and foster a deeper understanding
of the potential of creativity, thereby enriching the creative culture
in Hong Kong.
The Library Automation System of the public libraries is one of the
world's largest computerised library systems with both Chinese and English
capabilities. It provides 24-hour Internet library services for online
searching, reservation and renewal of library materials. In 2003, the
use of 14.10 million items of library material was renewed through the
Internet and Telephone Renewal Services. With the growing popularity of
online public library services, the Hong Kong Public Libraries home page
was ranked sixth among the most popular websites in Hong Kong.
With the Government's launching in mid-year of a new
generation of identity cards, utilising 'smart' technology, the public
libraries provided residents the option of using their smart ID cards
as library cards to borrow, renew and reserve library materials. Moreover,
a number of computer terminals with Internet access were installed with
e-Cert compatible smart card readers for public use to promote wider use
of information technology and electronic services. In December, an e-mail
notification service was introduced to enable registered readers to receive
overdue and reservation notices by e-mail, thereby enhancing service efficiency
and economy of paper. Plans were also in hand to install more self-charging
terminals to further promote self-services in the libraries.
The successful implementation of the Multimedia Information
System (MMIS), which provides audio and video on demand, online CD-ROM
and reference resources, as well as searching and viewing of documents
through the workstations at the libraries and on the Internet, was a milestone
in the development of digital library services. The system was also extended
from the Hong Kong Central Library to 24 major and district libraries
which significantly expanded the network to a total of 592 workstations
across the HKSAR. To further improve accessibility, the service hours
of the MMIS on the Internet were extended to midnight from November. At
the beginning of the year, the system was linked up with the International
Children's Digital Library's Books Project, a programme which collects
in digital format children's books and literature written and published
in different countries and offers them free to readers world-wide through
the Internet. With its strong archival feature, the MMIS has been included
since April in the Archives Portal of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organisation, a website through which archivists
and researchers may study the history and culture of different nations.
Outreach programmes form an integral part of library services. Regular
programmes like children's hours, book displays and exhibitions, thematic
talks and seminars, interest clubs and group visits were organised throughout
the year. In line with the digital library initiative, educational programmes
on teaching the public to use the Online Public Access Catalogue, online
databases, CD-ROMs, MMIS and the Internet were also held regularly. The
libraries organised a total of 15 248 library outreach programmes during
A variety of reading programmes and reading-related
activities were organised to promote reading. A month-long reading promotion
programme was organised during the summer holidays. The event included
a Children's Poetry and Rhyme Exhibition and a series of children's reading
programmes such as musical drama, mini concerts, film shows, reading talks,
storytelling sessions, poetry writing workshops, workshops on paired reading,
children's and parents dramatisation competition and children's musical
Moreover, the Teens' Reading Clubs were extended from
the Hong Kong Central Library and the five major libraries to 25 district
libraries. A number of activities, including 'Meet-the-Author' talks,
were held to support the reading clubs, and these drew an enthusiastic
response. Apart from the regular block loan service which provided books
and audio-cassettes to schools, not-for-profit organisations, rehabilitation
and penal institutions, homes for the aged and the physically handicapped,
a special mobile library loan programme was launched in collaboration
with the Po Leung Kuk and the Education and Manpower Bureau to provide
books to schools without library facilities. The 'Ten Recommended Good
Books' programme continued to be held jointly with Radio Television Hong
Kong, for the 10th year.
To encourage people to share books and support recycling,
the Book Donation and Sale Campaign was held again in February, raising
$677,000 for the Community Chest. The unsold books were donated to local
schools and organisations.
A number of special programmes and large-scale competitions
aimed at promoting creative writing and appreciation and development of
the literary arts were held. The major activities included the Chinese
Poetry Writing Competition, Competition on Story Writing in Chinese for
Students, and Hong Kong Biennial Awards for Chinese Literature jointly
organised with the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. The winning entries
in these competitions were published. So far, the public libraries have
published 99 Chinese literary books.
The year saw the strengthening of cooperation with public libraries
outside Hong Kong. A Memorandum of Understanding for a series of cooperative
activities in library development, resource sharing and professional staff
training was organised with the Cologne Public Library in Germany.
The cultural link with libraries in the Mainland,
especially in the Greater Pearl River Delta, was also strengthened particularly
in the areas of training, exchange of publications, library visits, reference
service and organisation of joint functions such as talks and exhibitions.
As part of the professional exchanges, a delegation of 16 librarian staff
from the Shenzhen Library underwent an attachment programme at the Hong
Kong Public Libraries.
The main functions of the Books Registration Office are to help preserve
Hong Kong's literary heritage through the registration of local publications
and to monitor the use of the International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
system. A Catalogue of Books Printed in Hong Kong is published quarterly
by the Books Registration Office in the Government Gazette, which
can be accessed through the Internet. In 2003, the office registered a
total of 13 075 books and 13 427 periodicals,
and 669 new publisher prefixes conforming to the ISBN.