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China: Bring Your Books to Rural Villages

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.

Yu Jianrong, a prominent Chinese scholar on rural development and grassroots social resistance, launched a flash mob action to deliver secondhand books to rural villages in early May.

The flash mob action is coordinated through a Weibo account @随手送书下乡 [zh], the meaning is “bring your books to the villages”. Below is a call [zh] for volunteers on May 4, 2011:

现招募全国各城市活动志愿者负责人,职责是:组织该地区志愿者利用节假日收集爱心人士捐赠的图书,分类登记并公布书名目;接统一调度发送图书;指导和监督接受捐赠的组织或个人管理图书;组织网友到农村去开展读书活动;关爱留守儿童。有意者请私信。

Now we are recruiting volunteers from all around the county. Their duties are to:
1. organize volunteers to collect books from donors on holidays and put the books into a catalogue;
2. coordinate the delivery of books to the nearby villages;
3. give supervision to the organizations or individuals who are responsible for handling the donated books;
4. organize netizens to host reading classes in rural villages;
5. take care of the children whose parents are working in the cities as rural migrant workers.
Please send me a private message if you are interested.

three book packages

Within two days, the Beijing contact point had received three packages of books:

To save transportation expenses, @bring your books to the villages urged its supporters [zh]:

大家好:十分感谢大家的支持,为了节省图书邮寄的费用,是否可以在各地建立随手送书下乡的联系人,1 收集本地的图书, 2 在本地农村的联系有意建立读书室的朋友,3联系本地随手送书下乡活动的志愿者。大家感觉这样可以吗?

Hi, thanks so much for your support. In order to save the mailing fee, please set up contact points in your own region to:
1. collect books;
2. contact friends who are willing to help build libraries in the village;
3. set up contact point for volunteers who are willing to deliver the books to the village.
Do you think this plan is viable?

Very quickly within five days, a number of contact points have been set up: Beijing [zh], Chongqin [zh]; Changsha [zh]; Guangzhou [zh] and Wuhan [zh]. Volunteers also set up a number of QQ groups [zh] to coordinate local book collection and delivery.

The netizen group @bring your books to the villages then made [zh] its first flash mob call to delivery books to Dabei town, Shunping county, Hebei on 15 May. More than 30 volunteers participated in the flash mob action. @Sesehou is one of them.

Here is a photo [zh] showing the reading room in the village:

Reading Room

Wang Qiang posted a group photo of the first book delivery activity in his Weibo:

Group photo

Soon after the first book delivery action, @bring your books to the villages made another flash mob call [zh] to collect books between May 21-22 at a hotel in Beijing. The group collected 1,600 books [zh] in two days:

1600 books

Apart from making a flash mob call, @bring your books to the villages also set up a bank account [zh] for collecting donations for building libraries in the villages. Every single income and expense item has been reported back to the community via the official Weibo account.

Since the official Weibo account was set up on 3 May, @bring your books has coordinated flash mob book collection and delivery action in different parts of the country almost every weekend. In less than three months, the netizen group has set up 33 contact points [zh] for book collection and 11 libraries [zh] in the rural villages.

The group's July 2011 financial report shows that it has so far received a total of RMB 87,858.38 in donations [zh] from netizens.

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.

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