From Children’s Dreams to Reality: First Rural School Library in Southeast China’s Xunwu County Opens

SHENZHEN, China, April 22, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Supported by the X Foundation (“the Foundation”), the first rural school library in Xunwu County in China’s southeastern Jiangxi Province, has recently opened its doors. The new library, spanning nearly 800 square meters and housing over 30,000 books, features a spacious and bright reading area, a multimedia classroom for reading lessons, and a picture book area. The library also introduces a technologically advanced self-service book borrowing system, making book management more efficient and user-friendly.

The opening of this library coincides with the 5th Annual Reading Carnival hosted by the Foundation in collaboration with Xunwu County’s Chengjiang Central School – a testament to their commitment to promoting reading among rural children. The Foundation’s efforts aim not only at providing access to books but also at creating an environment that nurtures reading habits from an early age.

To truly cater to the reading needs of local children, the Foundation formed a dedicated team. Within this team, a special role was established to ensure the library would directly reflect the needs of its primary users – the local children. Keyu Ji, a student from the Shenzhen Senior High School Group International Division (SID), was chosen to fulfill this unique position.

Keyu Ji
Keyu Ji

Ji was tasked with transforming the imaginative ideas of children into preliminary library design sketches. “Participating in this project has enriched my life. I am drawn to the shape, color, and layout every time I create a design based on the children’s ideas.” She also acknowledged the challenges in the design process, stating, “The children dreamed of a library that resembled a castle or had entirely wooden floors. While the gap between ideals and reality meant we had to adjust our design multiple times to reach the optimal solution.”

In addition to understanding the needs, Ji honed her drawing skills, dedicating hours each week to practice. Moreover, during the library’s design and construction phases, she committed to monthly travels from Shenzhen to Xunwu County, undeterred by the long hours.

“There are many professional staff in our team, and I’ve learned much from them. Design has taught me the importance of teamwork. It’s not just a skill, but a way of thinking, a method to transform concepts into visual works. It requires patience, good listening, innovation, and problem-solving abilities. It also cultivates critical thinking. Through analyzing, evaluating, and modifying designs, I’ve learned to view problems from different angles,” said Ji.

One notable feature inside the library, inspired by Ji, is an eye-catching tree structure. This unique design features a wide, white umbrella canopy atop a bookshelf base that resembles tree roots, filled with soft plush animal toys. Here, children can sit encircled by these “small animals” as they read, merging practicality with a welcoming environment that encourages learning. Ji explained, “This setup includes storage for books and is designed to accommodate a circle of small sofas for seating. Additionally, there is space on the outer circle for more seating. This arrangement allows everyone to sit comfortably and read.”

Focusing on user needs, this project enhances library spaces and functions, aligning with the Foundation’s goal to boost reading in rural areas. Since 2018, the Foundation has been nurturing a reading culture in rural areas by donating books, hosting reading events, and training teachers in life skills, alongside promoting urban-rural educational exchanges. Their strategy enhances education quality through community involvement, aiming to integrate reading into campus culture and transform libraries into vibrant learning hubs. By promoting a culture of reading, the Foundation aims to inspire meaningful enhancements in the lives of rural students.

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