National Library of China – Largest in Asia
Walk into the National Library of China (NLC) in Beijing and you’re likely to find every seat occupied. With almost 34 million items, the NLC is the largest library in Asia and one of the largest in the world.
China was not the first country to have a library open to the public. Instead, the Chinese government modeled their library on libraries in Western countries that were described in reports by the first Chinese diplomatic mission to go abroad.
The original library in Beijing was called the Imperial Library of Peking and was housed in a building of traditional architecture.
One copper coin was the fee for reading. No borrowing was allowed at first, but that changed before 1918.
Eventually, the library outgrew the building that had been its home and moved in October 1987 to a new, modern building.
The library changed names several times, always using a form of the word ‘Peiking,’ but the name was changed in 1999 to the National Library of China. The previous building now houses ancient books and is named NLC Library of Ancient Books.
As the number of items in the library continued to increase, another move might have been in the cards for NLC, but instead, KSP Architect Jurgen Engel designed a 77,000-square-meter extension to house 12 million books.
The NLC doesn’t seem to be on many tourist itineraries, but from the comments in TripAdvisor, several travelers recommend it as a spot not to be missed.
Photo credits: R.nagy & Tian-yu Xiong