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Beijing's new audio books library

By Chen Boyuan (

10:31, January 22, 2013

A visually impaired visitor to Hongdandan Xinmu Library is listening to a book with the help from the library assistant. (

Fighting Beijing's lingering winter chill, a group of volunteer readers at a West Gulou Street audio library continued to work. The library assists visually impaired to "read" books.

Hongdandan Xinmu Library is dedicated to empowering blind people with the ability to read.

Ms. Liu Mengchun is one such full-time volunteer reader. She does not see well herself, but still manages to read for the blind. She wishes to help those with even worse eyesight and give them knowledge through her voice. Recently she is working on the translated Italian fairy tale "Favole al telefono" (Telephone Fairytales).

Beneath Liu's studio is the reading room on the first floor of library's two-story building. Mr. Xiao Huanyi, a frequent visitor to the library, was attentively listening to a reader's voice from a speaker, which resembles a telephone receiver. Today he was listening to "Beijing, not Northward." "It's a book on commercial wars, and has a very peculiar name," he said.

The library's volunteer readers are not professional anchors, and misreading is a common occurrence. To solve the problem, there are also editors to mark the corrections before segmented audio files are compiled into a final product.

Hongdandan Xinmu Library started recruiting volunteers soon after it was established one year ago. The library has received thousands of applicants to help record books for the listening impaired, and roughly 100 volunteers were selected from this group.

These volunteers have helped the library complete more than 130 audio books, including classics like "Moments in Peking," "Flowers of War" and bestsellers such as "Under the Hawthorn Tree."

It usually takes two to three months to finish reading aloud one book, and post-production including proofreading and editing takes an additional two to three months.

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