Facing COVID-19 epidemic, Chinese library community in action

(23 Apr 2020) The outbreak of the new coronavirus has attracted global attention. The National Library of China and the Chinese library community took decisive actions and effective measures to contribute to the prevention and control of the epidemic. To prevent the risk of contagion from crowd gathering, the National Library of China was closed to the public from 24 January 2020, and onsite reader services, exhibitions, performances, lectures, etc. were suspended. Different types of libraries in China also took similar measures.

During the closure, the National Library of China has provided various services to the government, the public and the library communities, in addition to online services. It has also worked together with the Library Society of China to provide support and donations to the affected areas.

  1. Online services.

The National Library of China actively promotes online services to improve the service capabilities of the National Digital Library (NDL) and platforms such as NDL APP, mobile portal, service account of WeChat, and official account of Weibo, and meet the public’s cultural and information needs through online services.

• The NDL APP was downloaded more than 60,000 times in 20 days, a year-on-year increase of 404%, and new visits exceeded 200,000 times, a year-on-year increase of 164%.

• A special website of resources on Fighting Novel Coronavirus Epidemic was established to provide reference resource navigation for users with different needs in this special period.

• Promote mobile reading, and the contents cover scientific research databases, NLC public courses, online exhibitions, children’s digital resources, etc.

• Use the official accounts on WeChatWeibo, and other platforms to cooperate with libraries in various places to carry out a series of anti-epidemic publicity activities.

• Improve the operation and support capabilities of information facilities, and provide safe and reliable guarantees for employees’ telecommuting and online access to digital resources for readers.

2. Decision-making information services for epidemic prevention and control.

While providing public services online, the National Library of China has been actively providing decision-making information support for the fight against the epidemic. It has also compiled the Special Report on the Prevention and Control of the Novel Coronavirus Epidemic, and conducted thematic researches on creation of public safety systems, public health institutions’ emergency capacities; national strategic supplies reserve systems, and international epidemic response cooperation to better provide information reference services to the relevant government departments and public emergency management agencies.

3. Donations to prevent and control the epidemic in the affected areas.

To support the urgent call by the Chinese library community for donation to prevent and control the epidemic in the affected areas, the National Library of China decided to provide support and donations to Wuhan as soon as the outbreak of coronavirus, and donated a batch of protective supplies. At the same time, it stepped up the purchase of more supplies and sent a letter of support to all librarians in Wuhan.

The National Library of China and the Library Society of China jointly launched a donation campaign in the library community for the needed epidemic control supplies, with the theme of “Assisting Wuhan to Overcome the Difficulties”. Different types of libraries and associations at all levels across the country responded immediately. As of 24 February, more than 100 libraries had participated in this campaign, raising and donating a large amount of materials to libraries in Wuhan and other parts of Hubei Province. The donation included more than 36,000 masks, 260,000 pairs of gloves, 27,000 raincoats, nearly 15,000 pairs of shoe covers, over 1,500 sets of protective clothing, over 6,000 pairs of goggles, more than 4,500 bottles (barrels) of disinfectant, 30 tons of seasonal vegetables, etc.

4. Free online training courses to members and library professionals nationwide.

The National Library of China, in conjunction with the Library Society of China (LSC), provides online training for the library colleagues throughout the country with more than 100 selected professional courses delivered by well-known library and information experts. The members and library professionals nationwide can access these training courses through LSC’s Learning Center on the official website and APP, which helps them to persist in continued learning and improve their professional knowledge and service skills during this period.

Source: IFLA