Yesterday, we spent more time at Fujian Provincial Library today visiting two more departments. The morning was spent with the Technology and Cultural Sharing Department and in the afternoon we visiting the Reading and Lending Departments.
You may be curious about the title of the department, “Technology and Cultural Sharing.” Well, it’s two different departments together in one, but once you learn about it, it does make sense why they’re together.
The technology part is pretty much what you would expect from a library’s technology department – they deal with the library’s network infrastructure, databases, computer labs, etc.
The Cultural Sharing part, however, is something unlike any American library I have been in has. Due to an initiative from the national government, FPL (and other libraries around the country) was tasked with documenting the disappearing cultural heritage of the area through video, audio, and photography. They have tackled this task with great enthusiasm. They have a storeroom full to the brim with state-of-the-art, broadcast quality equipment and a staff of 12 dedicated to the production of video and multimedia products. They have several databases that contain searchable materials and the collection is ever growing. What’s all the more impressive is that the team is staffed by self-taught librarians who learned all this new technology on the job.
For example, look at these two databases of Fujian cultural artifacts. All of the media were generated by the librarians in the technology department.
We were deeply impressed with the work they’ve done and found ourselves wishing that our libraries were also able to do this kind of work.
In the afternoon we met with the librarians of the Lending and Reading Services – the patron-facing side of the library. We had a very animated discussion about current changes in circulation and reading programs. They are very excited about their impending remodel which will update the library old-fashioned subject-based reading rooms to more open and engaging spaces. I loved how enthusiastic and garrulous the members of the team were — we had a lot of fun just chatting about how our libraries do things differently. Throughout this trip, I have often reflected on how our similarities greatly outweigh our difference.
Finally, as a follow-up to Richard’s post from a couple days ago about smoking in China, I wanted to share the new poster for China’s new anti-smoking campaign:
Meanwhile… I’ve been getting mixed messages in my hotel room: