Zhejiang Library, a national first-class public library, is one of the earliest provincial public libraries in China, and one of the first batch of national key protection units for ancient books preservation and conservation. The history of Zhejiang Library dates back to Hangzhou Pavilion Library, which was first built in 1900 and then developed into Zhejiang Pavilion Library in 1903. In 1909, Zhejiang Pavilion Library was merged with Zhejiang Official Press into Zhejiang Library. In 1911, Zhejiang Library took over Wenlan Pavilion and the most precious collection Si Ku Quan Shu (Complete Library in the Four Branches of Literature). In 1912, the White Building on Gushan Road was erected, became one of the oldest buildings for public library’s exclusive use in China, and was opened to the public as the main library one year later. In 1931, another library building on Daxue Road was built and then became the main library, officially put in use in 1932. Due to the War of Resistance against Japan in 1937, Zhejiang library moved to Nantian Town (in Wencheng County, Wenzhou City), and the collection Si Ku Quan Shu was transferred to Dimu Cave of Guiyang Luchongguan Forest Park in Guizhou Province. Zhejiang Library and Si Ku Quan Shu stayed separately during the war and returned to Gushan Building in the end of 1945. In 1951, Zhejiang Library accepted the donation of Jiaye Library (now in Nanxun District, Huzhou City), together with its collections from the famous bibliophile Liu Chenggan (1881—1963). Of all its names, “Zhejiang Library” was officially in use in 1953. The present library building on Shuguang Road was built in 1998, and has been serving the public as the main library since then.
Today, Zhejiang Library has 5 library buildings, including the main library on Shuguang Road, two branch libraries on Gushan Road and Daxue Road in Hangzhou City, Jiaye Library in Huzhou City, and Deqing stack room in Deqing County, covering a total area of 55,100 square meters. Besides, 39 circulation stations have been set up across the province. On February 28, 2019, Zhijiang Library, the new library building of Zhejiang Library broke ground, with a floorage of 85,000 square meters, and is expected to be available by the end of 2022.
As of 2020, the total collection of Zhejiang Library amounts to more than 7,470,000 items, featuring abundant ancient books and local literature, including approximately 830,000 thread-bound ancient books (including 150,000 rare books), 5,510,000 general books, 1,00,000 bound periodicals and newspapers, 150,000 library-collecting engravings, 4,110,000 e-books and 190 electronic databases (especially the 38 self-built databases on genealogy and local chronicles of Zhejiang Province). Zhejiang Library attaches great importance to the introduction of foreign literature, and that’s why it maintains partnerships and keeping book-exchange with 12 libraries from different countries and regions, including America, Japan, and Australia.
Zhejiang Library, open to the public all year around for free, has over 1600 seats and 1,970,000 books and journals. Its daily visits reach over 3300. There are 2,450,000 registered readers, with 44,000,000 annual visits to the official website. Zhejiang Library has launched a series of activities for readers, including the famous Wenlan Lecture, Wenlan Display, Wenlan Reading and Wenlan Social Forum. By integrating public library resources of the whole province, Zhejiang Library has set up “Zhejiang Network Library” to provide readers with non-profit digital reading. Users can also use WeChat and Alipay to enjoy its mobile-based services, especially the “Credit Reading” (which is based on the personal credit record and there will be no deposits or overdue fees in public libraries across the province). That is for the integration of online and offline services, thus making public services more equitable.
As Zhejiang Sub-Center of National Cultural Information Resources Sharing Project, Zhejiang Information Accessibility Service Center, and National Online Library Cataloging Center, it is always committed to the co-building and sharing of cultural information resources, service improvement for the visual impaired, cross-border book resources building and sharing, and the Chinese rare books protection project. Also, as a member of the National Public Library Lecture Union and Yangtze River Delta Public Library Lecture Union, Zhejiang Library has, with constant emphasis on the co-building and sharing of regional resources, taken the lead in organizing lectures, holding displays, forming technological alliance and implementing the service of library coordinated loan and return in Zhejiang province. In addition, Zhejiang Library publishes Library Research and Work (CN33-1398/G2), a comprehensive journal focused on library science and informatics.