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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Free library opens door to knowledge

By Wang Qingyun (China Daily)

08:25, January 04, 2012

Liu Mulei talks to pupils in his free library near the Tangdong Primary School in Wanfu town, East China's Jiangxi province. Wang Qingyun / China Daily

NANCHANG - It was a brisk and sunny morning in late December. Like every other day in the town of Wanfu, Jiangxi province, a man stooped over laying out newspapers and magazines on a table in the market, his face wrinkled into a half-smile.

His table was soon surrounded by adults and children flipping through the papers and magazines. They were reading at the little bookstand for free, or to borrow favorite books at the bookstand without giving any deposit.

Liu Mulei, 76, taught primary students Chinese for 40 years. Since retiring in 1996, he has collected about 6,000 albums of newspapers, magazines and books.

With this considerable collection, Liu opened his first library in 2006 when he began to take care of the activity room for elderly people in the town. Now he runs four libraries, including this famous one set up in the market in 2009.

"For the first five years after retirement I spent about 1,000 yuan ($160) on newspapers and magazines every year, and more and more people came to read them," Liu said. "So in order to satisfy their needs, since 2001 I spend about 4,000 yuan a year on buying reading material."

Mail carrier Guo Weiping has known Liu for 11 years. "We advised him to order less, but he just loves his libraries," Guo said.

Liu's house is also the library of Meixi village, where he lives. Out on the wall he put a signboard stating "Longevity Rural Library". It's just like a traditional Chinese farmer's house if one ignores the red banner hung across the brick wall: "Books are the ladder of human progress."

Inside, bookshelves are full of books and newspaper clippings, while newspapers waiting to be stitched into albums are piled on a table and on his bed.

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