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CDNLAO Newsletter

No. 92, August 2018

CDNLAO Meeting

Cultural Heritage Preservation and Conservation in the National Library of China

By Wei Mengmeng, Librarian of International Cooperation Division, National Library of China

The content of this article was presented by Mr. Sun Boyang, Director, Legal Affairs Division, National Library of China, at the 26th Conference of Directors of National Libraries on Asia and Oceania (CDNLAO). The presentation material is available at the Annual meetings page.

1. Introduction

The classics are the historical testimony of the continuation and development of human civilization and the important carriers of history and culture. As an important window for cultural heritage and service, the National Library of China (NLC) focuses on the protection and utilization of cultural classics according to its functions and collection characteristics by implementing some key projects.

2. The Chinese Ancient Books Preservation Plan

The Chinese Ancient Books Preservation Plan is the first documents preservation project undertaken by the central government in Chinese history. The NLC, as China National Center for Preservation & Conservation of Ancient Books, is responsible for carrying out the project. It has made important achievements since initiated in 2007: carrying out ancient books survey and registration in the country; establishing National Directory of Precious Ancient Books, realizing national management and preservation of ancient books at different levels; nominating "National Key Ancient Books Preservation and Conservation Institutions," improving storage environment of ancient books; establishing multi-level talents cultivation system, cultivating a group of high-level professionals on ancient books preservation; developing ancient books preservation standards and specifications, quickening the scientization and normalization progress of ancient books preservation; rescuing and restoring damaged ancient books; strengthening ancient books collation, publication, research and utilization; playing their important roles of inheriting traditional excellent culture. In addition, the China Ancient Books Preservation and Conservation Association is established, which strengthens the cooperation among ancient books preservation community and improves ancient books preservation system.

By the end of 2016, it has completed the survey and registration of 1,218 institutions, with more than two million pieces of registration data, and more than 400,000 pieces were publicly released; the "National Basic Database for Census and Registration of Ancient Books" based on the national census registration data of ancient books was published on the Chinese ancient books protection website. The State Council has released five batches of directories, with a total of 12,274 ancient books in 457 units, nominated five batches of 180 institutions as the "National Key Ancient Books Preservation and Conservation Institutions," improving storage environment of ancient books in 1,000 institutions; 247 restoration rooms have been established with a total area of 16,000 square meters, and more than 2.5 million leaves have been restored. The staff related to ancient books has grown from less than 1,000 people to tens of thousands since 2007 and the number of restorers for ancient books has increased to more than 1,000.

< Repairing ancient books >

3. Minguo Documents Preservation and Conservation

Minguo Documents Preservation and Conservation Programme was initiated by the NLC in joint with documents collection institutions nationwide in 2012. With the participation of libraries nationwide, general survey of Minguo documents is gradually implemented; overseas documents collection has made substantial progress; Minguo documents collation and publication have made important achievements, forming a series of documents.

At present, nearly 300,000 bibliographic records have been investigated, and more than 500,000 pieces have been collected by the NLC. The compilation and publication of the "Directory of Documents in Minguo Period (Book Volume)" have been initiated, 78 items of document publication have been approved, and 5,988 volumes have been published. The "Protection Network of Documents in Minguo Period" was set up, fully carrying out publicity work with thousands of articles of various news media reports, organizing tour exhibitions and lectures on protection work achievements throughout the country.

< Website of the Minguo Documents Preservation and Conservation >

4. National Museum of Classic Books

The National Museum of Classic Books (NMCB) is located in the NLC South Area, covering 11,549 square meters with 10 exhibition halls. Since it was opened in 2014, the NMCB has held many exhibitions, such as "The Series Exhibitions of Special and Rare Collections of the National Library of China," at which abundant interactive experience activities were held, such as "Walk into the Big Classroom of National Museum of Classic Books." It is devoted to "bringing all records in our classics to life." It actively holds business exchanges with national and international colleagues, explores various exhibition cooperation patterns, and establishes flow exhibition line, so as to make more readers receive traditional culture edification. Based on the NLC's abundant collections, it develops cultural and creative products, making more people "bring the museum back home." Up to now, there are 28 special exhibitions and more than 500 tours and 600 lectures were held in national and local ancient books protection centers, such as "National Special Exhibition of Precious Ancient Books" and "TianfuQianhua." Some programmes, such as "I and the Ancient Books of China" Maker Contest were held in the NLC and nationwide. It was jointly organized by the China National Center for Preservation & Conservation of Ancient Books and the Library Society of China was launched in April 2016. It is divided into two parts: creative elements collection and competition. Firstly, the organizing committee collected various pictures and patterns related to ancient books from the national library and related organizations, and then the participants can freely design and create based on these creative elements. In this activity, ancient books, designing, library services, literary creation and other resources have been effectively integrated. Many exhibitions of participating works have been held across the country and received good response.

< Exhibition in the National Museum of Classic Books >

5. National Strategic Depository of Document Preservation Project

The NLC assumes the responsibility of remote backup and storage of national important documents and digital resource disaster recovery storage, guaranteeing national culture security and long-term development, and is a national key cultural project which comprehensively protects and inherits national culture heritage. It will cover the area of more than 25 acres, including the storage area, business processing area, supporting rooms and so on, which is ready for construction in 2018. The total construction scale of the project is close to 70,000 square meters, of which 45,000 square meters can guarantee constant temperature and humidity. The total investment in the program is about 900 million RMB.

6. Other important projects

In the past ten years, the NLC has not only achieved major breakthroughs in the rescue and protection of precious ancient books, but also actively explored the reorganization, research and development of these ancient books, and many important projects were carried out, such as "Reconstruct Project of Chinese Rare Books," "Overseas Chinese Ancient Books Survey and Digital Cooperation," "Digital Resource of Chinese Ancient Books Database," "The History Series of China's Rare Books," "A Hundred Classic Books of Chinese Traditional Culture" and "China Memory Project".

7. Conclusion

A wealth of literature left behind during thousands of years of civilization contains nation's historical memory, ideological wisdom and knowledge system. Inheriting civilization and serving the society is a glorious and arduous task for library workers. We should strengthen the protection as well as make good use of them, letting the public enjoy these excellent culture heritages without any obstacles.

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