Shanghai Library

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Shanghai Library
Shanghai Library.jpg
Established 1847
Location Shanghai,  China
Branches n/a

1.7 million ancient Chinese books

50.95 million items
Access and use
Circulation n/a
Population served members of the public
Other information
Budget n/a
Director Wu Jianzhong
Staff n/a

Shanghai Library (Simplified Chinese: 上海图书馆; Pinyin:Shànghǎi túshūguǎn) is the second largest library in China after the National Library of China in Beijing. It is located in Shanghai, China. At 24 stories and 348 feet (106 m) tall, it is the tallest library in the world, as well as one of the largest.[1] The building has a tower that looks like a giant lighthouse.

Early History: The Xujiahui (Zikawei) Library[edit]

The Xujiahui Library began with the arrival of three Jesuit missionaries in 1842: Frs. Claude Gotteland (1803-1856), the head of the mission, Francois Esteve (1804-1848), and Benjamin Brueyre (1808-1880).[2] As the missionary work progressed over the next five years, it became clear that a permanent place of residence was needed, in part to provide a place for newly arrived missionaries to study Chinese and prepare for their work. The site chosen was the village of Xujiahui (pronounced Zikawei in the local dialect), five miles southwest of Shanghai. Fr. Gotteland also made the decision to set aside space for a collection of books supporting the missionaries' study and work upon their arrival at Xujiahui. It was from these modest beginnings that the Xujiahui Library (Zikawei Library), which would become one of the two foremost Jesuit libraries in China (the other being the Beitang Library), was established in 1847.[2]

The library was originally housed in three rooms in the mission priests' quarters on the north side of the existing chapel. Then in 1860, the Jesuits added to their land holdings in Xujiahui, and the library was moved east of the Zhaojiabin Canal and that building was enlarged. By 1897 the library's holdings had once again outgrown the space. Plans were drawn up for a new two-story, twelve-room library, which was completed in 1906. This new library building was divided into a Chinese style first floor area for materials in Chinese and a Western language section on the second floor.[2] This library was referred to by several names, known from the stamps of ownership inside the books in the library. These names included Zi-ka-wei Reservata Bibliotheca, Bibliotheca Zi-ka-wei, Zi-ka-wei Bibliotheque de Mission, Zi-ka-wei Bibliotheca Major, and in Chinese, Shanghai Xujiahui Tianzhutang Cangshulou ("Library of the Catholic Church of Xujiahui, Shanghai"). Local people in the area called the big building among the old gingko trees simply "The Great Library."[2]

At its height, the Xujiahui Library collection included over 100,000 titles in 200,000 volumes: 80,000 volumes in European languages and 120,000 volumes in Chinese.[2] After the destruction of the Dong-fang [Asia] Library in 1932 by Japanese militarists, it was the largest library in Shanghai. Besides its extensive holdings of gazetteers, the Xujiahui Library also held early, rare newspapers and magazines. The European language collection of the Xujiahui Library was made up of books in over ten different languages, including Hebrew, Latin, Greek, and other European languages. The library owned major dictionaries and encyclopedias from all over the world and important scholarly journals to aid the Jesuits in their studies, as well as over two thousand pre-1800 rare editions.[2]


In 1925, Shanghai East Library, the first library run by Chinese, was opened. In 1950, the Shanghai Cultural Heritage Managing Committee launched a campaign to collect books and after about a year, the collection grew to more than 200,000 volumes. Many scholars and celebrities contributed and some of them made large donations. The committee also started to buy books from abroad. After the mission schools and scientific establishments had been taken over by the Chinese government, the last foreign Jesuits left Xujiahui in 1951.[2] The Xujiahui Library, along with other libraries formerly run by foreign groups, was placed under the control of the Shanghai Municipal Library, which had been established on July 22, 1952. This was the first large municipal public library in Shanghai. The library had a collection of more than 700,000 volumes. Shanghai Library merged with the Shanghai Municipal Library of Science and Technology, the Shanghai Municipal Library of Historical Documents, and the Shanghai Newspaper Library in October 1958. The Xujiahui Library (Bilbiotheca Zikawei), which reopened in 1977, also became a branch of the Shanghai Library. It was the second largest comprehensive public library in China, in terms of collection, services, and professional expertise.

Library in the modern era[edit]

Shanghai Library merged with the Institute of Scientific and Technological Information of Shanghai (ISTIS) in October 1995. It became the first ever library in China that combines public library services with SciTech and industry information research functions.

Today, it is the largest public library in China and one of the ten largest libraries in the world. It was opened to the public on December 20, 1996. It covers 3.1 hectares of land, with a floor space of 83,000 square meters.

Internet access[edit]

On the ground floor there is a room with internet access for 4 yuan per hour. The opening hours are everyday from 9 to 20:30.


The Library is located at 1557 Huaihai Zhong Lu, Xuhui District of Shanghai. (Address for locating the Shanghai Library Simplified Chinese: 上海市淮海中路1557号,靠近复兴中路 Shanghai-shi Huaihai Zhong Lu 1557-hao, kaojin Fuxing Zhong Lu)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shanghai Library at". Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g King, Gail. (1997). The Xujiahui (Zikawei) Library of Shanghai. Libraries & Culture, 32(4), (Fall, 1997), pp. 456-469, University of Texas Press.

Further reading[edit]

  • David H. Stam, ed. (2001). International Dictionary of Library Histories. Fitzroy Dearborn. ISBN 1579582443. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°12′33″N 121°26′24″E / 31.20917°N 121.44000°E / 31.20917; 121.44000