Libraries lack funds to buy books

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 August, 2005, 12:00am

About a quarter of county-level libraries are too broke to buy books, a leading member of the library institute said. He warned that the situation could exacerbate the knowledge and income gaps that plague the country.

Li Guoxing , who heads the academic research institute at the China Society for Library Science, said dilapidated local libraries, with some still stuck in '1970s standards', stood in stark contrast to the mainland's economic development.

'There are 700-plus county libraries in the country, most in central and western regions, that do not have even one fen allocated for buying books,' Mr Li said.

A considerable number of libraries did not have computers or internet connections, Mr Li was quoted as saying yesterday by the China Youth Daily.

Some had also used funds allocated for books to pay staff, with as many as 40 people being hired to man a single library.

Describing the development of libraries and basic education as the twin pillars of social development, Mr Li urged the central and local governments to allocate 50 million yuan to county libraries to ease their financial burdens.

Meanwhile, leading economists warned yesterday that the country's wealth gap would widen further during the 11th Five-Year Plan set to start next year.

National Economic Research Institute director Fan Gang told a meeting of economists in Jinan , Shandong province , the government needed to accelerate economic growth and create more jobs.

Mr Fan named job creation as a quick solution to the social conflicts that may arise in the near future as a result of the income gap.