Family Library Nourishes Neighbors for 40 Years

BySun Ruisheng and Zhou Huiying March 18, 2021
Du Dejian and his wife pose for a photo in front of the library at his home in Zhangfang Village of Yongji, Shanxi Province. [For]


Over the past 40 years, Du Dejian has received numerous visitors at the library he built in his home in Zhangfang Village of Yongji, Shanxi Province.

Du, 60, a rural teacher, determined to establish a library in the village when he noticed various difficulties his neighbors encountered as a result of limited knowledge during the planting season around 1980.

He was newly married, and the couple moved out of their room and installed simple bookshelves. With support from his family, Du brought books, newspapers and magazines, mainly about agriculture.

Then, on Jan 1, 1981, heralding a new year, he threw open his doors to all his neighbors to use the library free of charge.

There weren't as many visitors as he expected at the beginning.

"At that time, residents would trust their own experience rather than books," he said. "To attract them, I began to send newspapers to their homes and explained the great power of technology."

Du Dejian organizes newspapers in his home-based library in Zhangfang Village of Yongji, Shanxi Province. [For]


Gradually, more people became loyal readers in Du's library.

To enrich his collection, Du traveled to different cities — Beijing, Taiyuan, Xi'an and Zhengzhou — to buy books. So far, he has gathered more than 40,000 books and around 1,300 types of newspaper and magazine.

He has presented more than 700 agricultural technology training courses over the decades since the library opened, attracting more than 30,000 people who want to learn.

"In recent years, with the development of the internet, the library has seen fewer readers," he said. "I began to try new methods to spread knowledge."

He set up a WeChat group and sends agricultural information to the residents, helping them farm more scientifically.

Residents read at Du Dejian's library. [For]


A resident reads at Du Dejian's home library. [For]


Du Dejian keeps books organized in the library he built at his home in Zhangfang Village of Yongji, Shanxi Province. [For]


A resident reads at the library Du Dejian built at his home in Shanxi Province. [For]


Du Dejian cleans a bookshelf in his library. [For]


A resident selects a book at Du Dejian's home library. [For]




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