The Hangzhou municipal library in Zhejiang province has been called “the warmest library in history” as it provides shelter and books to homeless people during its open hours.
The homeless patrons can be seen waiting outside of the Hangzhou New Public Library, located on Jianggan district’s Jiefang Dong Road, at 8:00 every morning, according to local residents.
Liang Liang, the vice curator of the library, said that the vagrants leave their collected trash at the entrance of the reading room and spend the day paging through books.
76-year-old Zhang Kai, one of the readers who depends on his pension and trash-collecting for living expenses, was born in the countryside of Hangzhou. He told reporters that he used to work as a cadre and teacher in his village, but has been alone since his divorce.
“I wash my hands every time before I read books here,” said Zhang, “I don’t want to make the books dirty.”
A staff member said that he comes to the library around three times a week, and that news and politics are his favorites.
36-year-old Chen Hu, another reader from Chongqing, has been coming to read newspapers in the library almost every afternoon for around one year. He said that he came to Hangzhou to look for a job last year, but when he couldn’t find a proper one, he began making a living by collecting trash.
“I want to learn something valuable from the newspaper about the animal farming industry,” said Chen.”If I can’t find a good job, I will go back to my hometown to raise animals.”
32-year-old Xie Bin is a polytechnic school graduate from Anhui. Six years ago, he began working in a Zhejiang shoe factory, making about 4,000 RMB per month. Unfortunately, the factory is only open three months a year. He spends his time reading and writing, waiting for the factory’s to re-open.
He said he goes to the temporary labor market every day, but returns to the library to write if he can’t find an odd job from the market. In the evening, he sleeps on the street or a random building basement.
The libraries also provide boiled water, electricity and TV, films and the Internet. Libraries in Guangzhou, Nanjing and Chengdu also open to the homeless.
“I think I can find a job but I’m afraid that I won’t find any other place as quiet as the library to read and write,” Xie said.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via Tencent]