Rosina Choi Ho Ling, an official of the Cultural Affairs Bureau’s (IC) Communication Department, told the Macau Post Daily via email last week that the Macao Public Library has a collection of approximately one million books, of which 80 per cent are in the Chinese language, while 20 per cent are in other languages.
Libraries are many students’ both most and least favourite places in the world. They are places where one spends day and night working on assignments, but also where one can find a fantasy world to escape from reality.
According to the bureau’s website, there are 21 public libraries and one special library in Macao. Choi said that all the public libraries are part of a centralised system, and residents can always borrow books or use materials from each of the libraries.
An abundance of books
According to Choi, Macao’s public libraries have approximately 200,000 non-Chinese language books. She noted that about 95 per cent of the non-Chinese language books are in Portuguese and English, while the other 5 per cent are books in languages such as French, German, Italian, and Japanese.
Choi added that the non-Chinese language books cover a wide range of subjects including language and literature, arts, social sciences, applied sciences, geography, biographies, history, philosophy, children’s books, and computer technology.
Choi pointed out that in addition to books, the public libraries’ collection also includes audiovisual materials, periodicals, newspapers, electronic resources (including multiple databases) for readers to access. She said that in non-Chinese languages, the main types of audio-visual materials include movies, documentaries, music, television series, animation, stage performances, and biographies.
Swedish author Katarina Bivald, who was born in 1983, once said, “There’s always a person for every book. And a book for every person.” Maybe you can find your book in the abundance of books that the Macao Public Library network provides.
Sharing is caring
There is an old adage: “sharing is caring”. Macao’s public libraries always take donations from residents, so they can share their beloved books with the public. Choi told the Macau Post Daily in her email that in terms of donation statistics, a total of 149 non-Chinese language books were received in the first eight months of this year, accounting for about 13 per cent of the total of donated books. Meanwhile, a total of 740 non-Chinese language books were donated last year, accounting for about 20 per cent of the total number of donated books in 2019.
When asked about the non-Chinese language books’ borrowing situation, Choi said that about 19,000 book borrowings were recorded between January and August this year, accounting for nearly 10 per cent of the total of book borrowings during that period. She also noted that more than 51,000 book borrowings were recorded last year, about which some 10 percent were books in languages other than Chinese.
Choi also said in her email that “in the future, the Macao Public Library will continue to supplement various types of books and languages in accordance with the [government’s] ‘Collection Development Policy’, the collection conditions and the needs of readers, so as to provide readers with high-quality and diverse collections.”
American aphorist Mason Cooley (1927-2002) once said that “reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” During this COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are forced to stay where we are. Maybe it is time for you to go to a library and borrow a book, in a language that you are most comfortable with, to take you somewhere else.