Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ11: Hong Kong Public Libraries

     Following is a question by the Hon Christopher Chung and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Home Affairs, Ms Florence Hui, in the Legislative Council today (May 27):


     In March this year, the Hong Kong Public Libraries (HKPL) under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and an educational body jointly organised the 26th Secondary Students' Best Ten Books Election (the Election), in which secondary students elected, among 60 shortlisted books, 10 favourite books of secondary students. Recently, some parents have complained to me that one of the shortlisted books advocates extreme and radical political ideas, and they are worried that the book will instill wrong concepts in secondary students, thereby causing undesirable impact on them. Regarding how HKPL selects and handles books for children and youths, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the role of HKPL in organising the Election;

(2) of the amount of public money spent on the Election this year;

(3) whether HKPL knew the titles and contents of the shortlisted books before the list of shortlisted books was announced; whether HKPL objected to the inclusion of any individual books in the list of shortlisted books in the Election in the past;

(4) whether HKPL has drawn up any criteria or guidelines for shortlisting books in the Election, so as to ensure that the books shortlisted are suitable for children and youths;

(5) of HKPL's current procedures for purchasing books, the ranks of the staff mainly by whom the book order lists are drawn up, and whether any mechanism is in place for reviewing the list before the books are purchased;

(6) whether, in the past five years, HKPL removed any books with undesirable notions from the library shelves on its own initiatives or in response to public complaints; if so, of the details;

(7) whether HKPL has put in place any mechanism for removing books from library shelves; if so, of the details; and

(8) what procedures HKPL has in place for ensuring that it will not purchase books which are unsuitable for children and youths (e.g. books that exaggerate violence, pornography, vulgarism and undesirable notions, or propagate ethnic/religious hatred, etc.)?



     My reply to various parts of the question is as follows:

(1) to (4) Launched in 1989, the Secondary Students' Best Ten Books Election has been held for 26 years. In the past, the event was jointly organised by the Former Urban Council and the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union with a view to encouraging reading among secondary school students and promoting a reading culture. Since the establishment of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) in 2000, the Hong Kong Public Libraries (HKPL) under the LCSD has continued to co-organise the event with the organisation. The organisation has all along been taking charge of all the co-ordination work, including open invitation for book recommendation, establishing a panel for the selection of the shortlisted books, arranging the voting for ten good books by secondary school students, and organising the prize presentation ceremony, etc. The LCSD respects the co-ordination work undertaken by the co-organiser and has not been involved in any work concerning book recommendation and election. The role of the LCSD in the event is primarily to provide a venue for the prize presentation ceremony and bear part of the expenses, as well as organising a roving exhibition of the elected recommended books in some of the public libraries. The cost borne by the LCSD for the Secondary Students' Best Ten Books Election this year is $35,000.

(5) The collection development of the HKPL aims at developing a balanced and diversified library collection to meet the community's needs for information and research, to support lifelong learning, continuous education and profitable use of leisure time, and to promote local literary arts. It is guided by the beliefs proclaimed in the  United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)  Public Library Manifesto. The selection and acquisition of library materials is performed by professional library staff according to the principles of collection development. The HKPL will take into account the overall status and development direction of its collection, the demands and interests of different users, the quality of the materials, latest publication information, book reviews and bibliographies, etc. in selecting suitable titles to compile purchase lists for the approval of the Collection Development Board. The Board, established within the internal structure of the HKPL, is served by the professional library staff. Its primary responsibility is to supervise and co-ordinate the various tasks related to the development of the library collection, including the acquisition of library materials.

     The HKPL awards supplier contracts through open tender in accordance with the Government's established procedures and follows the lists approved by the Collection Development Board for the acquisition of library materials.

(6) to (8) The HKPL will acquire library materials according to the principles of the UNESCO Public Library Manifesto. It is committed to safeguarding the principle of free access to information and will not promote any beliefs or points of views through its collection. To ensure the vitality and usefulness of the library collection, and to make room for new and updated materials, regular and systematic weeding is conducted to identify items that are worn out/damaged beyond use, items with outdated information, and reference materials with their reference or research value lost for withdrawal from the library collection. Moreover, the HKPL will review library books as appropriate to ensure they conform to the collection principles. In the past five years, the HKPL handled a total of 12 cases which involved the withdrawal of books not conforming to the collection principles, including books referred by the Department of Health on problematic Chinese medicine; books which have used pictures or photos without the consent of copyright owners; books containing violent and pornographic elements, and publications which have been ruled as infringing copyrights by a court in Hong Kong.

Ends/Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Issued at HKT 12:23


Print this page