120th Anniversary of Macao Central Library

2015 marked the 120th anniversary of the Macao Central Library, which has witnessed the cultural changes in Macao over the course of a century. As we usher in a new year, the functional reorganisation of libraries under the auspices of IACM and Macao Central Library the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) has been integrated under the Department of Public Library Management of IC now assuming responsibility for the new public library network. 

//Hong Fan Teng is one of the most experienced members of the library.

Milestones of Macao Central Library

Following the establishment of Liceu Nacional de Macau (Liceu National School of Macao), the Macao National Library affiliated to the school was opened to the public.

The library project in the Leal Senado Building (currently known as IACM Building) was completed.

Named “Public Library”.

Bylaws of the Public Library of Macao were founded.

Renamed “Macao National Library”.

The government announced the inception of the Sir Robert Ho Tung Library in accordance with Sir Robert Ho Tung’s will.

Coloane Library was unveiled.

The Macao National Library (Main Branch) opened at the current address on Av. Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida. Leal Senado Library (currently IACM Building Library) was assigned as a branch of the library network.

The first mobile library started operation.

Mong Ha Library opened.

Renamed “Central Library”.

Ilha Verde Mobile Library Centre was inaugurated.

Renamed “Macao Central Library”.

Macao Central Library was presented with the Medal of Cultural Merit (Medalha de Mérito Cultural).

Red Market Library opened.

Taipa Library opened.

In the long history of the library, Macao Central Library has undergone through a series of reforms. This year it is renamed the Department of Public Library Management. The Director of Bibliographic Resources Development Division, Hong Fan Teng, one of the most senior librarians, has worked for nearly 30 years in Macao Central Library. She described her relationship with the library as sometimes even closer than her family.

“Books are like humans, they get old and sick and require careful attention; for instance, if there is bookworm and mould, professional colleagues of the restoration section will act as ‘doctors’ to treat them. We all have different preferences when it comes to eating, as with reading, and thus a library must select its books according to reader preferences and publishing trends”. Hong’s speech revealed the close connection between book and family. 

Hong visits libraries and bookstores even when travelling in order to understand library management culture in other places; for instance, libraries in Canada tend to reserve the most cozy space for readers, while libraries in Singapore take the initiative to reach out to readers instead of waiting at the service desk, and libraries in Taiwan pay attention to architectural style.

As for the libraries in Macao, she reckons: “Many of the libraries in Macao are located in a building of historic value, which seems quite unusual in Asia; we are also keen to explore the characteristics of different districts and integrate reading into residents’ daily life; for instance, Sir Robert Ho Tung Library features literature and art genres while Taipa library holds a variety of children’s books”.

During her tenure in the library, she mentioned that prior to 1999 the book collections of Macao Central Library were primarily in Portuguese thus a large number of Chinese books was added to the collections after Macao’s handover. The library published the 450 Years of Luso-Chinese Relations during the founding of the Macao SAR, which is a catalogue of books, newspapers and other bibliographic information regarding Chinese-Portuguese relation studies, representing a milestone for the library.

Macao Central Library has undergone through different eras, and this year it will experience new changes. Hong believes that the new public library network has integrated library resources and will lend in bigger development space in the future. Following the merger, the collections of 17 libraries will complement each other, while unleashing their own characteristics. The libraries will adjust their collections in light of community development and the needs of readers; with the establishment of specific themes, readers will have a clear understanding of the functional position of each library. For instance, libraries with a majority of elderly users will carry more books about physical wellbeing and health, while the Patane Library mainly houses film-related collections.

A number of public libraries will gradually be built and opened in the future. Moreover, this year Department of Public Library Management will replace its library automation system and a 24-hour library service will begin trial operation. With the concentration of resources, Macao’s libraries will continue to develop diversified services to cater to the various needs of readers.

//Macao Central Library

//Mercado Vermelho Library