A woman searches for books in Chongqing Library, a public library in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality. While making continuous efforts to prevent and control COVID-19, the library sees an increasing number of readers since it reopened in late March. (Photo by Wan Nan/People’s Daily Online)
A woman searches for books in Chongqing Library, a public library in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality. While making continuous efforts to prevent and control COVID-19, the library sees an increasing number of readers since it reopened in late March. (Photo by Wan Nan/People’s Daily Online)

By HeLinping

Wu Guichun, a migrant worker in Dongguan, south China’s Guangdong province,didn’t expect that afarewell messagehe left in June fora library in the city in turn continued his bond with the city.

Wu, from central China’s Hubei province,came to Dongguan in 2003. As he only received elementaryschool education, he could only work as a choremanin factories.

Reading has been Wu’s only hobby through the years.He used to visit roadside bookstalls frequently to buy books in his spare time.

“Why don’t you go to the library since you love reading so much?You can read there for free, plus they havea massive collection of publications,” a coworkersuggested to Wu one day in 2008. Wu didn’t believe what his coworker said until he got up the courage to visit the Dongguan Library, where he found it was easy and comfortable to read. “More importantly, it is free,” Wu said.

He spent most of his spare time in the library during holidays or on the days off since 2008.“I ate more in the morning ifI planned to goto the library, so that I wouldn’tfeelhungry the whole day and couldstay in the library till it closed,” Wu said.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on many industries in the city, Wu decided to leave Dongguanfor his hometown to find a new job.

When he went to the Dongguan Library to return his library card on June 24,Wu wrote on a comments bookof the library “…Looking back on my life in Dongguan over the years, I find the library is the best place I’ve been to.As much as I hate to leave, I have to make a living. Never will I forget you in the rest of my life…”

The message arousedwideattention online the next day. Theheart-touchingwords conveying simple and honest sentimentsof the migrant worker to the librarymovednumerous people.

While many netizens felt sorry that the bookworm had to leave the place he likes so much,the official account of the library on micro-blogging site SinaWeiboforwarded relevant news and commented, “We will always be here, looking forward to seeing you again.”

Fortunately, the news drew the attention of the city’semployer-employee match-makingservice center, which promptlysearched for suitable jobs for Wu and received responses from many enterprises.

On June 26, Wu passed the interview of a propertymanagementcompanyandgota new job. On the afternoon of the same day, he resumed his librarycard of the Dongguan Library.

“I feel great as I can stay and read here again,” Wu said.

Wu is a witnesstothe ever-growing reading atmosphere of Dongguan, a city planning to build itself into a city of libraries since 2004.

By the end of last year, the city had built amain public library and 52 branch libraries. These public libraries were visitedover 13.53 million person-times last year, or an average of 37,000 readers per day.

There are much more readers today in DongguanLibrary, and some even sit on the floor during weekends andpublic holidays, according to Wu, who said the situation stands in stark contrast with that more than ten years ago when he first started to read in the place.

The atmosphere of reading adds to the charm ofDongguan. As books nourish the mind, they make people who read them sparkle.While playing their parts in city construction, migrant workers are also eager to absorb spiritual nourishmentin publiclibraries ofthe city.

As the public cultural service systems improve, migrant workers’demandfor reading hasbeengradually met. China is looking forward to seeingmore readers like Wuwho contribute to and benefit from urban development.

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