New Space Brings New Hope: Tusen Ord Sparking Chinese Children’s Imagination

by Xushuiqin

Wuhan Children’s Library

In China, there is a gorgeous city with the Yangtze River passing through, named Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province. This city has a public library, the Wuhan Children’s Library (https://bit.ly/2jZMNI9) which provides free services for 1.5 million children.

Figure 1. Wuhan Children’s Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2. Reading Room in Wuhan Children’s Library

The library building is an excellent historical building under cultural relic protection. In the past 88 years, it has been quiet and elegant, and received little public attention. However, it is different now. It is becoming an eye-catching and dynamic paradise for local children to read happily and grow up healthily. The dramatic change can be attributed to the new space in the library, Tusen Ord.  Tusen Ord is a children’s imaginative reading space, the first in public libraries in China. Its Chinese name “Qian Zi Wu” implies “many words in the house”. Since the project was introduced from Sweden, its English name adopts the word from the Swedish Tusen Ord, meaning a thousand words.

Figure 3. Tusen Ord gateway
Figure 4. Inside Tusen Ord

Tusen Ord in Wuhan

Tusen Ord in the Wuhan Library covers an area of 296 sq m over two levels and was constructed at a cost of about 1 million yuan (approximately US$155,000). The facility consists of six activity areas, including a Wish Tower, Rainbow Bridge, Chu Room, Swedish House, Mysterious House, and Dream Theatre. The design of each area is integrated into four elements of character, place, wish  and question, with props and facilities used to carry out activities, and equipped with some excellent children’s books and specially designed reading spaces.

Figure 5. Mysterious House
Figure 6. Dream Theatre

Tusen Ord in Borlänge

The design of the facility is modelled on the Tusen Ord in Borlänge, Sweden, retaining some Swedish characteristics and incorporating a large number of Chinese elements. The Swedish Tusen Ord (thousand words) is a project sponsored by Young Eagle, the Kulturcentrum Asken, Studieförbundet Bilda and the Swedish Church in Borlänge with assistance from the library in Borlänge and the Future Museum  (https://bit.ly/2rHEGDdhttps://bit.ly/2Geln9T)

Details of the Facility

In Wuhan’s Tusan Ord, children may make their own wishes in the centre of the Wish Tower. They can play games together, during which they get to know that dreams will come true through mutual help and hard work. Children can take a panoramic view of Tusen Ord from the Rainbow Bridge, looking at figures on the Photo Wall and stories on the Window Wall. There is a Story Telling Cabin and mini-world drawers in the Swedish House. Children complete tasks using their hands and minds and enjoy experiences of great value.

Figure 7. Story on the Window Wall
Figure 8. Mini-world drawer

Many interesting games are available including chess and silhouette stories with story background boxes. Children can happily enjoy using their imaginations and being creative while playing games or working at the tables. Many unexpected treasures are awaiting discovery by the children in the Mysterious House. Open question and answer sessions allow the children to think outside the box under the guidance of their teachers. In the Dream Theatre, children make full use of the costumes and props on stage to play various roles in the performances, show their dreams and experience life’s joys.

Figure 9. Silhouette story
Figure 10. Peking opera facial masks

China’s intangible cultural heritage items, such as Peking Opera mask, dough sculpture, mini kites and paper cutting are reflected in the decoration of the space.

Chu Room takes Hubei characteristics of Chu culture as its decorative style, setting up three activity scenes: a mini ancient opera stage, Chinese hieroglyphic printing, and the game Huarongdao, in three kingdoms of ancient China. Children can direct their own activities, shadow play, experience typography and challenge ancient Chinese folk puzzle games.

Figure 11. Shadow play
Figure 12. Shadow play

Maintaining Relevance

Tusen Ord emphasizes flexibility in its design. Since its opening in 2016, library staff have changed exhibitions and presentations to ensure that children using the facility maintain their curiosity. New scenes and theatrical enhancements have been used to stimulate children’s imagination.

Figure 13. Library staff preparing new decorations
Figure 14. The new ceiling

Children’s Activities

Through scenes, props and activity design, children use their imaginations under the guidance of teachers to create their own stories around the four elements of character, place, wish and question. They act out the stories and present them using art, music, dance and drama.  Children of all ages find their favourite reading spaces and read books while lying, sitting or lying on one’s stomach.  Librarians combine picture books and activities, taking a picture book story as a blueprint, creating an active atmosphere, and using stories as the launching point for the activity being undertaken. The children participate actively in the story, involve themselves in the plot and think and act creatively.

Figure 15. Children’s activity
Figure 16. Children’s activity

The Results

Tusen Ord has helped the library successfully attract more readers. In 2017, 964,454 readers entered the Wuhan Children’s Library, enjoying reading and participating in the activities.  Because of the remarkable impact, a school, Po Yang Street Primary School, has introduced the Tusen Ord project to build its Sunshine Castle learning centre, which has benefitted more than 1,400 children aged from six to twelve years.  A new space, modelled on Tusen Ord but with different scenes, has been constructed.

Figure 17. Sunshine Castle in Po Yang Street Primary School

Chinese children when compared with children in other countries are frequently perceived to be lacking in imagination. Through the efforts of librarians and teachers in China and the construction of new imagination space in public libraries and schools, the present situation is likely to change. To give more children opportunities to experience Tusen Ord, Wuhan Children’s Library plans to develop chain branches in more areas of the city and promote the concept to the entire city of Wuhan and eventually throughout China.

Figure 18. Children spending the night in Tusen Ord

Author details

Xushuiqin currently works in the Wuhan Children’s Library in its counselling and training department. She is responsible for children’s reading and the promotion of research.  She has combined her love of reading with the love of children and is proud of the achievements of librarians. Xushuiqin received a master’s degree in library Science from Central China Normal University in 2012. She was a member of the cultural delegation who visited the Kulturcentrum Asken (Asken cultural centre) in Borlänge, Sweden, in 2015 and received training from the teachers working in Tusen Ord.  From September 2015 to December 2016, Xushuiqin participated in the planning and construction of Tusen Ord in Wuhan and has been responsible for activities planning, compiling lesson plans and teacher training. 徐水琴 xu-shuiqin@qq.com

 

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The Madrid Pavilion at the Thirty-first Guadalajara International Book Fair

by Helen Ladrón de Guevara Cox 

The Book Fair 

The largest Spanish language book fair in the world takes place in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico. Each year, the fair exhibits books and carries on its activities at Expo Guadalajara, the largest convention centre in Mexico, located in the southern part of the city. The structure has 119, 000 square metres of space.  (http://www.expoguadalajara.mx/expo_guadalajara/expo_guadalajara.html)

From 25th November to December 2nd, 2017, people gathered to learn about new book titles, meet with writers and participate in a variety of academic conferences  related to the culture of the book, libraries, information, communication  and other related fields. The fair included recognition ceremonies for outstanding authors, librarians, book collectors, poets, journalists and related professionals and daily cultural events with live music, theatre, art exhibitions and other events provided  by the guest country. Attendance exceeded 814,800 people.

The most outstanding event at the Fair is the Opening Ceremony where the winner of the FIL Literary Prize in Romance Languages  (Premio FIL de Literatura  en Lenguas Romances) (https://bit.ly/2rp8gOv) is recognized and receives the amount of US$100,000.  In 2017, the winner of the international competition was the French writer Emmanuel Carrère  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmanuel_Carr%C3%A8re).

The Madrid Pavilion at the thirty-first Guadalajara International Book Fair http://www.excelsior.com.mx/expresiones/2017/11/25/1203600#imagen-3

The Madrid Pavilion

The thirty-first Guadalajara book fair in December 2017 featured the city of Madrid, Spain. The space highlighted in this blog is the Madrid Pavilion that resembled an amphitheatre. The pavilion was designed by the Spanish architect Alberto Campo Baeza (http://www.campobaeza.com/) and took the form of a tall cylinder painted black on the outside with an inscribed phrase that read: Ganarás la Luz (You will gain the Light). The slogan is the title of an outstanding work by the Spanish poet, León Felipe. León Felipe has been considered by scholars to be included in the generation of year 27. He left Spain in 1938 and began a voluntary exile in Mexico, where he died (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le%C3%B3n_Felipe).

The interior of the pavilion displayed pure white bright light and presented a fabulous sight. The inside of the cylinder resembled a bullring with uprising bleachers and had several purposes. The primary one was for the Mexican audience to have an encounter with Spanish authors. It was also intended to provide a more relaxed atmosphere with book stacks to exhibit and sell books published in Spain and to present a more intimate space within the convention centre for book presentations and writers to speak about their literary work and more interestingly to hold debates that stimulated interaction with the public.

image002
Inside the Madrid Pavilion. http://www.excelsior.com.mx/expresiones/2017/11/25/1203600#imagen-5

Librarians attending the Book Fair noted a resemblance of the design to the Stockholm Public Library designed by Gunnar Asplund.

The Madrid Pavilion was an outstanding success for reading and enjoyment of books from Spain at the thirty-first Guadalajara International Book Fair.

Author details

Helen Ladrón de Guevara Cox is Chief Advisor, Grand Centre of Library and Information Services, New State of Jalisco Public Library, Mexico. Helen is a teacher, graduate and Master of History at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico. She received a master’s degree in library science from the State University of New York and was the founding director of the Jalisco Historical Archive, and the first woman director of the Institute of Libraries of the University of Guadalajara. A recent project has been the development of the master plan for the new public library of the state of Jalisco. In 2017, Helen was awarded the Jalisco Prize in the workplace. Helen is a corresponding member of the Standing Committee of the IFLA Library Buildings and Equipment Section.  hldeguevara@hotmail.com

Celebrating Stunning Canadian Urban Library Branches

by Barbara Clubb

Introduction

Over the past decade, newly built and renovated public library branches have showcased great Canadian architects and their spectacular, innovative work. This blog draws attention to the stunning achievements in public library branches in Canada and highlights libraries in the following communities:

  • Brampton (Gore Meadows Community Centre and Library)
  • Calgary (Nose Hill branch)
  • Edmonton (Jasper Place branch)
  • Mississauga (Meadowvale Community Centre and Library)
  • Ottawa (Beaverbrook branch)
  • Toronto (Scarborough Civic Centre branch)
  • Vaughan (Civic Centre Resource Library) and,
  • Waterloo (John M. Harper branch).

The libraries feature striking design, excellent use of natural light, technological and physical adaptability, accessibility and flexibility, environmental sustainability and sensitivity to surroundings, both natural and cultural. The results have created remarkable points of pride in the eight communities. Technology is leveraged at every turn and includes self-check systems, maker-spaces, creative studios, wireless access, hot spot loans and more. Four branch libraries are inclusions in larger community facilities. Yet print has not been forgotten, and there are lots of books. Continue reading

Evolution not Extinction; Making the Case for Co-Locating Services in Multi-Use Buildings

By Ayub Khan

Perspective

Ayub Khan
Ayub Khan

There is a widely held perception that British public libraries are in decline and that the proliferation of online services and continuing financial pressures are proving too much. Similarly, people think that new library buildings are rarer than giant pandas. Neither is in fact the case.

Media coverage over recent years has focused on closures and falling loan figures. Positives like the growth of virtual libraries and the diversification of physical services into new and exciting areas, such as computer coding, Lego clubs and high-tech Makerspaces seem to be less newsworthy. Big building projects in major conurbations tend to get plenty of media coverage but local library developments fail to attract the same attention.

It is frustrating to read and hear that public libraries have perhaps ‘had their day’ when the sector is vibrant. UK libraries receive 250.8 million visits a year, more than all cinemas, night clubs and professional sporting events. Continue reading