October 26 marks the first anniversary of the opening of the Seoul Metropolitan Library in the refurbished building of the former Seoul City Hall.
As well as serving the usual functions of a library, Seoul Metropolitan Library also handles Seoul’s policies concerning libraries and reading culture, and functions as a library specializing in the collection and provision of information on Seoul and helping people to enjoy reading books.
Housed in a four-story building with four basement floors, the library has six data rooms and houses a vast collection of materials, including 240,000 paper books, 8,200 electronic books, 4,900 non-book materials (including DVDs), and five databases associated with the National Assembly Library (as of Oct. 2013).
A total of 2.2 million people have used the library and 57,100 people have signed up as members as of October 21, 2013.
Regarding the age of library users, 30-somethings top the list, followed by people in their 40s, 20s, and 50s. Remarkably, there are even eight users in their 90s. About 55.7% of the members are females. The members come from far and wide including Gyeonggi-do, Incheon-si, Busan-si, and even Jeju Island.
Most of the books requested by members of the public are purchased, but some special books or materials have been donated by individuals or organizations.
One individual donated a total of 10,919 books to the library, while more than 5,000 books were donated by the Literature Translation Institute of Korea and embassies or culture centers of 53 countries.
The library has also held a number of book-related exhibitions. A small second-hand bookstore run at the entrance to the library on Saturdays in June and July will be operated all year round in 2014.
The Seoul Metropolitan Library has launched a network of libraries representing Seoul’s 25 autonomous districts to promote discussion about library-related policies.
Among its many diverse activities, the library has also run a campaign aimed at increasing the number of municipal libraries; held sessions designed to educate municipal librarians; opened miniature neighborhood libraries; helped members of the public to find second-hand bookstores; and launched an integrated book search service.
It also plans to hold diverse events, including the Seoul Book Festival, in a bid to encourage the general public to read more books.