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November 7, 2015

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Tour groups banned from library after being deemed too disruptive

JIADING Public Library said yesterday it is closing its doors to organized tour groups, after becoming inundated with visitors more interested in its modern architecture and stylish interior design than its reading and reference materials.

“This is a library, not a tourist attraction,” Chen Weijian, director of readers service at the library, told Shanghai Daily to explain the decision.

Since June, when it hosted a number of events for the Shanghai Citizens Art Festival, the library has received extensive media attention, said Chen, who until yesterday also served as chief tour guide.

“They have been pouring in ever since. On my busiest days, I have to show six or seven different groups around,” she said.

Chen said that she and a few colleagues who helped manage the tours always started by asking visitors to be quiet, in the interests of other users.

“But it’s hard to make everyone stick to the rules when you’re showing round a group of 100 people,” she said.

The library building, on Yumin Road S. is certainly impressive.

Designed by Taiwan-born Ray Chou it is a blend of the traditional jiangnan architectural style native to the Jiading area and contemporary lines, wood finishes, high ceilings, and elegant chairs and reading desks.

In 2013, it featured in United States-based Interior Design magazine’s 2013 Best of Year awards.

A man surnamed Zhang told Shanghai Daily yesterday that he has been visiting the library since it opened in 2013, and was glad to hear of the ban on group tours.

“They are a nuisance on the same level as the mouse clicks of people playing computers or talking on their phones in the reading room,” he said.

A teacher surnamed Shen from Putuo District, who was part of a group of about 100 people visiting the library yesterday, described it as “the most beautiful” she’d ever seen.

She said she’d like to visit again, though in light of the new rules she’ll probably have to go alone.

Chen said the library doesn’t want to close its doors to groups for ever, but decided to suspend them while staff consider the best way to handle them.


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