I have been using the HK Public Libraries on and off for some time – especially when I was studying for my OLQE, I did a bit of studying at the City Hall branch, which had some great hours. Not too long ago I finally visited the Central Branch in Causeway Bay, and it is really awesome in every sense of the word! First, it’s huge – ten whole floors of books, lots of computer terminals for public use, and the sweet sweet sound of quiet.
Second – and this applies to the whole library system – anyone can borrow books almost immediately! When I came down to the library with V, I found that I had exceeded my 6 book borrowing limit, so we had him check out some books. Though there is a requirement for residents to prove their address with a utility bill in order to get full borrowing privileges, V was able to apply for his card, get access, and agree to fax in his supporting documents later. He was ready to borrow right that moment!
I also know that visitors can borrow! For a trial, a client and his wife were in HK for a number of weeks. The wife wanted to catch up on some reading and visited the Central branch. She discovered that so long as a resident guarantees her application (and borrowing), she too can borrow! My boss helped her sign the application and she was borrowing soon after too!
The HKPL also allows you to very easily renew books on the web or by phone; you don’t need a separate card to borrow books because your smart ID resident card will have your library borrowing information loaded on it (if you so choose); and there are event drop-off locations in some major MTR exchanges, so you can ease the burden of returning books by returning them on your regular commute! How great is that!?
Finally, the hours are terrific. Even on a Sunday night, the Central branch is opened until 9pm, and I recall the City Hall branch being open on holidays too.
Having loved libraries growing up, and then seeing major budget cuts cut back horus and service, I really appreciate how excellent the HK Public Libraries are. I also think it’s an incredibly important public space for kids/students.
Two big big thumbs up to the HKPL!