BEIJING, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese national library's new building opened to the public here on Tuesday, making it the world's third largest in terms of floor space.
With the operation of the new building, the library's total area reached 250,000 square meters, behind only the national libraries in France (Paris) and the United States (Washington D.C.), according to the library.
The new building in western Beijing, which is considered the second phase construction of the library, covers an area of 80,538square meters, combining storage rooms, reading rooms, a display area for ancient books and a digital library, said Zhan Furui, the head librarian.
It has 2,900 seats and a capacity to cater to 8,000 readers daily with about 600,000 books. Readers can also have wireless access to Internet on their own laptops or use any of the 460 computers in the new building. Palmtop digital book readers are also available to enjoy its 200-terabytes of digital resources.
A special library section for vision-disabled people features voice-controlled computers to look up books and resources.
The library now is spacious enough to meet the needs for storing books for the next three decades, Zhan said.
It also planned to open a library channel with a cable TV company to put on programs of its lectures and exhibitions, as well as a short message service on library information.
"In the age of Internet, we are introducing new technologies into the 'old' library work," said deputy head Chen Li.
Construction of the new building began in late 2004 and cost 1.22 billion yuan (178.3 million U.S. dollars). It is one of the key culture projects sponsored by the Chinese government.
State Councilor Liu Yandong and vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Sun Jiazheng were among dignitaries at the unveiling of the new library.