An area of Fuzhou has a high concentration of universities all within a few miles of each other, hence the nickname the locals have given the area: “University Town”.
We visited five of the universities and their libraries: Fuzhou University, Fujian Agriculture & Forestry University, Fujian Medical University, Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Fujian Normal University. Each university campus was impressive in its size (especially their large libraries!), but as we visited all of these places in the space of two days, it was a bit of a whirlwind tour. Most of the libraries are either quite new or are being renovated. Almost all have a large, professional-level auditorium/theater for lectures and staff development forums. They tend to have grand lobbies, lots of glass, a large HD multimedia video display screen showing events or other messages and windows or doors that open wide to the air. Here are individual the highlights:
Fuzhou University: Established in 1958, “Fu Da” has risen to the level of a highly ranked school and a member of the national 211 Program for higher education. The library is beautiful and state of the art. After Lori’s presentation on getting feedback from patrons, we took special note of a panel display outside the entrance promotlng the Library that was covered with handwritten post-it notes. They told us it was library promotion month and the post-its were comments from students about the library service.
Fujian Agriculture & Forestry University: This was an older building of very institutional style. In China that means cold floors and white walls, little decoration and large functional rooms. The Director said that they were in the middle of a project to “improve the environment”, which he said means making it more cultural and pleasing. He mentioned hanging pictures on the wall and painting as part of the project. Pat gave her presentation on Managing Digital Libraries to the library department heads and it was followed by a discussion in which they said they get most of their digital library materials from vendors. We think they meant databases rather than books but sometimes we just weren’t sure!
Fujian Medical University: This was a newer building, built in 2011. One of the common features of most of the academic libraries that we’ve seen is the number of print items they have – this is due to their accreditation process which requires that they have a certain number of volumes within the library. At the medical library, this posed a unique issue, as they needed to keep their older print items for volume count, even though they have found that not many of their users use things that are older than 15 years. They also had an interesting Museum of Life collection (no photos allowed) that let students and scholars study “real” human body parts and physical abnormalities in formaldehyde.
Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine: This university served about 10,000 students. They also offer some of their classes in English and you don’t have to be a full-time student to take their classes – so we briefly considered enrolling in a class. 🙂 What was most impressive about this campus was their wonderful herb garden.
Fujian Normal University: This is a large university that has a broad scope and a big student body. The Director wanted to show us two things: a glitzy touchscreen exhibit in the lobby of a book he published on the history of the school and the important rare Qing Dynasty books in the Special Collection Department. Lori gave her presentation on Library Promotion through Social Media and got many questions on how their library could use similar social media tools available in China to market their library services.