By Wang Jintao, People’s Daily
After lunch, Zhao Xuecheng sneaked a break and picked up a book about the prevention of plant diseases and insect pests for vegetables.
Reading or borrowing books from the local rural library, or farmers’ book house, has become habitual for the 53-year-old farmer from Gaodunying village, Xiaguanying township, Yuzhong County, northwest China’s Gansu province.
Zhao, an outstanding vegetable grower, told People’s Daily that he often reads books about farming at the farmers’ book house, as he believes that one should love and invest in what he or she does for a living.
On the book shelves of the farmers’ book house in Gaodunying village, which is among the first batch of rural libraries built in Gansu province, there are books about agricultural planting, novel breeding, and law, as well as masterpieces of world literature.
“We have a total of over 15,000 books. Residents can either read the books at the library or borrow them,” said librarian Jing Zhenghong, pointing to a thick registration book on which the information of the borrowers is recorded.
bookshelves”Books about agricultural skills are the favorites of the residents,” Jing said. According to him, local farmers would always visit the library to seek better ways of vegetable planting when they are not kept busy by farming chores.
“Gansu province started piloting the rural library program in 2005, and the program covered all administrative villages in the province seven years later,” said Wang Chengyong, deputy chief of the Publicity Department of the Gansu provincial Party committee.
So far, Gansu has built 16,321 rural libraries, housing 31 million books. Each farmer in the province has access to an average of 2.6 volumes, and around 120 books are borrowed annually from each rural library. A total of more than 2 million books are borrowed a year across the province.
Each year, these farmers’ book houses get about 6,000 volumes from the Gansu Provincial Library, and their inventory is replenished every six months. The province is divided into seven sections based on natural conditions, cultural backgrounds, and customs for the targeted distribution of books. Besides, the government also offers training sessions on agricultural skills at these rural libraries.
By integrating rural library and public library resources, Gansu province is making books more accessible to the people.
In the past, rural libraries and public libraries were independent of each other, but now readers can borrow and read books at libraries in many places with only a library card, which can be applied for with an ID card, said Li Xuhong, deputy director of the management office of Gansu’s rural library program.
“The books borrowed from public libraries can be returned to farmers’ book houses,” Zhao Xuecheng noted.
“This is the book you wanted a few days ago,” said Gu Weidong, passing a book to villager Gu Zhenglin. Gu Weidong is the Party head of Xiling village in Dahe township, Sunan Yugur autonomous county of Gansu province. He’s also a librarian of the farmers’ book house in the village. To deliver the book, he spent nearly an hour on horseback.