Liyuan Library, called one of the ten most beautiful libraries in China, announced it had ceased operation on September 23, after being accused of stocking pirated books.
The library was founded and designed by architect Li Xiaodong in 2011, serving as a non-profit organization free to the public, and a place for local villagers to keep updated with the outside world.
Nestled in Huairou mountains on the outskirts of Beijing, the library enjoys stunning scenery and creates a peaceful atmosphere ideal for relaxing and reading, especially for those seeking to escape from the city hustle.
However, reading-focused WeChat public account Zuoshu posted an article on September 19 criticizing Liyuan for stocking pirated books, and cited quite a few examples of well-known collections including White Deer Plain, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Liyuan apologized to the public later and officially announced they were ceasing operations in a Weibo announcement.
Netizens were quick to comment as the news surfaced; most of them expressed their concern about pirated books, a long-time problem in China’s publishing industry, and showed their support and understanding to the library.
According to Pan Xi, manager of Liyuan, the library now houses over 30,000 books, of which some were donated by readers, a project initiated by the library trying to enlarge the library collection in 2013.
The library mainly relied on volunteers to help sort out the books, and some low quality books, even pornographic novels, are sandwiched on the book shelves.
The library now is recruiting experienced librarians and book expert volunteers to clean out the pirated books.
“Providing a good platform for people to read is our unwavering will, and hopefully the library will reopen to the public soon with a cleaner reading environment”, Pan Xi said.
A nationwide survey released in 2016 reveals the average Chinese adult read less than eight books in 2015, among which 4.58 were paper books and 3.26 e-books.
With digital books becoming more popular, many would find it hard to remember the last time they sat down in a bookstore or a library enjoying a tranquil moment.