China's State Council, the country's cabinet, passed a draft public library law Wednesday that clarifies the government's role in building public libraries, outlines a library management system and calls for libraries to offer more digital resources.
The development of libraries is an integral part of building better public cultural services as they encourage reading, enhance people's accomplishments in science and facilitate the construction of an innovation-oriented country and a learning-oriented society, the Xinhua News Agency cited the State Council as saying.
Li Guoxin, a professor at Peking University, was quoted by Xinhua as saying that "Today's passing of the draft public library laws signifies an important step toward a complete legal system to safeguard public cultural services, after China's public cultural service guarantee law was put into action on March 1."
Li added that the draft will clarify the basic developmental system for libraries, drive collaboration between governments and society, and advance socialist core values.
A public library network covering the whole nation has been basically completed, and as of the end of 2015, there were 3,139 independent libraries at the county-level or higher across China, with a total collection of 838.44 million books, according to Ministry of Culture data.
The digital offerings of public libraries have also improved with over 830 million electronic books available as of 2015.
And according t0 the Xinhua report, governments at all levels allocated 12.7 billion yuan ($1.85 billion) to support libraries in 2015; and the central government has offered subsidies of 404 million yuan for free libraries.