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October 21, 2009

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Book exchange hailed as national first

CHINA'S first self-service book-exchange machine will be put into public use at the end of this year in Putuo District Library, authorities said yesterday.

The machines are also expected to be used at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

Residents will be able to borrow books from the machine by using their ID card, library card, fingerprints or even Expo tickets.

They can also put their returned books into the machine.

The contraption resembles a big ATM machine and can store about 200 books. These books are free and the library will not set any deadline for their return.

"People can have them as long as they wish," said Si Ying, curator of Putuo District Library.

"The free book club is aimed to encourage reading and make society as a whole a library."

The library will also go digital and people will be able to download books through their USBs.

The machines are likely to appear at the Expo site next year, providing not only books but also multi-media information of scenic spots, local culture and cuisine to tourists.

The first machine is now on trial in Putuo District Library. "If possible, we will put more in universities and communities," said Jing Weijie, the project manager who is in charge of the research and development of the machine.

Book exchanges - also known as book crossings - have been popular in the West for some years and involve leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.


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