Is nothing sacred anymore?
Perhaps not, as it turns out that Beijing’s beautiful Liyuan Library, named as one of the world’s most speculator places to read a book, has been closed down over its shelves of pirated and explicit reading material.
On Tuesday, a reading-focused public WeChat account revealed that the idyllic lakeside library in the rural outskirts of Beijing, which is run by a nonprofit aimed at providing reading material for locals at no charge, was filled with numerous counterfeit books. According to Sixth Tone, their discoveries included books with covers and content from different publishers, as well as an incomplete translation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in which one of the remaining English sentences is followed by a message from the desperate translator: “How to translate this sentence??? Can anybody help me?”
Along with printing errors and incomplete translations, some of Liyuan’s books also allegedly contained “uncensored and elaborated erotic descriptions,” the South China Morning Post reported.
Shortly after the article appeared, The National Anti-Pornography and Anti-Illegal Publications Office launched an investigation into the library’s material and did indeed find that many of the books there were pirated. The office has ordered Liyuan to shut down by September 23rd.
Liyuan’s sole librarian, Pan Xi, said in a statement on Tuesday that the library will stay closed until all of its reading material is cleaned up and its shelves purged of all counterfeit books, expressing regret at this setback for the library’s mission. “It was always our intention to let farmers in the village get in touch with the outside world, and to allow urban readers to enjoy reading in the mountains,” Pan said, according to a Sixth Tone translation.
Pan added that the majority of the library’s books had come from public donations.
The National Anti-Pornography and Anti-Illegal Publications Office has been a formidable force against counterfeiters for some time. Back in 2013, the office demonstrated its power by destroying 30 million pirated publications to celebrate World Intellectual Property Day. Presumably, it has had enough work to keep it occupied since then.
Over the years, Liyuan Library, located in Jiaojiehe Village about 80km outside of downtown Beijing, has been frequented by visitors hoping to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, take some pretty selfies and perhaps even read a book.
By Máté Mohos
[Images via Li Xiaodong Atelier]
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