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A new chapter for Beijing's libraries

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

09:55, July 17, 2012

A self-service library attracts a passer-by's attention in Beijing recently. Containing more than 400 books, it allows users to borrow and return books 24-hours a day. (China News Service Photo)

Self-service libraries are becoming increasingly popular with Beijing residents, with 50 having sprung up across the city over the past year and 100 more are expected to open in the coming months.

The 24-hour service allows readers to choose from 20,000 books housed in giant automatic machines scattered across the capital.

And the convenience of the service has proved popular, with self-service libraries being the source of 31.63 percent of all books borrowed from public libraries in Beijing's Chaoyang district since they were introduced last year.

Tao Jun, a publicity officer at the Chaoyang District Library, said the service was beneficial to readers.

"The book vending machine has extended library service hours and has fewer location limitations than its traditional counterpart," Tao said.

An additional 100 self-service libraries will be set up in highly populated areas in the capital by the end of the year as demand increases, she said.

A single self-service library, containing more than 400 books, resembles an ATM but is about the size of three cars. Borrowers can keep five books for up to four weeks at a time.

Readers can register with their ID card for a membership at a public library for 100 yuan ($16), allowing them to borrow books from both the city's traditional libraries and the new self-service machines.

When the self-service machine is running short of books or is damaged, the library will be informed through its data center and cameras installed in the remote device.

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