|Two women read books in a paid self-study room after work. [Tuchong]|
SHANGHAI, January 13 (Xinhua) — Instead of studying at home or in a library for free, an increasing number of people in China are choosing to go to paid self-study rooms in an effort to improve study efficiency.
Equipped with customized tables and chairs, adjustable lighting, air purifiers and quiet computer keyboards, these study rooms are attracting learners with their professional services and setups.
"We aim to create an undisturbed learning space for people who are eager to study but cannot find ideal spaces," said Wang Yi, founder of a 24-hour paid study room.
"Over the past six months since we opened, the market demand is beyond expectation, and we are opening branches to deal with the shortage of lounges," Wang added.
In Shanghai, there are over 80 paid study rooms charging around 2 to 20 yuan (around 30 U.S. cents to 3 U.S. dollars) per hour.
To create a tranquil and friendly learning atmosphere, some rooms have low light to aid in concentration, while some are sunrooms where consumers can enjoy views from large windows. In addition, staff will help remind customers to keep quiet while in the study areas.
Liu Kangcan is an owner of a paid study room which has over 8,000 members. Most of his consumers are white-collar workers aged between 22 and 30 who want to pass postgraduate entrance exams or get certain qualification certificates.
"Fierce competition in the workplace motivates white collars to learn more. A quiet and professional learning space is needed," said Liu. His study rooms also offer wake-up call services.
"Seats are hard to get in public libraries, and there are also a lot of distractions," said Feng Jia, an employee in a financial media company who was preparing for a financial certificate examination. "At home, there were more distractions, such as mobile phones, snacks and pets."
"I did not have much time to prepare for the exam, so I must be efficient with my time. So, a paid study lounge is ideal for me," said Feng.
Yu Xuefeng, who recently quit his job, goes to paid study rooms almost every day.
"I feel fulfilled when I learn something new. It is worth paying for a private and quiet study environment," said Yu.
Shanghai's public libraries have encountered a rising number of library users.
Pudong Library has about 3,000 reading seats. "Over 80 percent are occupied on workdays, and it is almost impossible to find a vacant seat during weekends and holidays," said Shi, deputy director of the Pudong Library. "Sometimes, the steps of the library are even full of readers."
At the Shanghai Library, there are about 1,900 reading seats with tables and chairs and about 1,400 seats with no tables for leisure and training.
The Shanghai Library receives around 3.6 million people annually, which breaks down to 5,000 to 8,000 on weekdays and 11,000 to 15,000 on weekends, according to Xu Qiang, director of the Shanghai Library's reader service center.
"People are lined up outside before we open every day. There are often quarrels and disputes over getting a seat," said Xu.
As for the emerging paid study rooms, Shi said it was a new model of learning consumption, different from the services of public libraries.
As young people have more personalized needs, it is a supplement to the cultural facilities offered by the government, according to Shi.
Xu also believes that public libraries and paid study rooms complement each other in meeting the needs of different users.
"Readers enjoy more abundant book resources in public libraries, while the privately-owned study rooms create a 'very quiet' learning space and provide various personalized services for their customers," said Xu.
Construction on the expansion of the Shanghai Library is underway. Special designs are being implemented to improve services for readers.
"We will learn from these private study rooms to better provide services to our readers," said Xu.
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