Liangyue Study: Bringing Books to the Masses
Langyuan Park, a sister project of Langyuan Vintage, is an example for Beijing’s cultural and creative parks and will become a national-level cultural and creative demonstration zone and also a new calling card for Shijingshan District.
May you be warm in spring and winter,
May you have light when it's dark and an umbrella in the rain,
May you not let time slip away and stay close with your friends,
May your loved ones greet you in the morning,
May you not feel lonely whenever you're on your own,
May you see right from wrong and still be kind,
May you always have Langyuan Liangyue to keep you company.”
These lines were posted on Langyuan's Wechat public account in summer this year. But what exactly is “Langyuan Liangyue”? It is in fact a new public reading space in the west of Beijing, located in Shijingshan District.
Located north to Babaoshan Station on Subway Line 1, Langyuan Liangyue Study features floor-to-ceiling windows and various types of plants.
The study is outfitted with long wooden tables, staircase-style seating and exquisitely-made tables and chairs that provide readers with a comfortable reading space. The most attractive part of the study is the 6,000 new books on the shelves. "The books have been provided to us by the Shijingshan District Cultural Committee and the Shijingshan District Library," explained Lü Jia, the general manager of Langyuan Park. “Citizens can come here free of charge." At its entrance, there is
a sign which reads, "Beijing Shijingshan District Library-langyuan Liangyue Study Branch.” This location is part of a campaign to promote reading among the public.
From Old Market to Urban Study Space
Standing in the open space in the north of the study and looking out through the glass windows, one can see an ancient tower. On it is a time-worn inscription which reads "Chongguo Temple Shifang." The tower here was built during the Yuan Dynasty around 700 years ago and is one of several towers in the North Chongguo Temple complex, built and founded in 1287 by Abbot Dingyan. Three abbots, including Dingyan, Longanxuangong, and Dingzhi are all buried here. In the early days of the Liberation of China, there were still seven towers in the northern yard and three in the southern yard. Today, the only remaining Yuan Dynasty tower is situated in the northern yard. The 9-metretall brick-covered Lama Tower is built on top of a square-shaped foundation and is characteristic of lama towers from the Yuan Dynasty. Below is the sacred Sumeru foundation, also called Vajrasana, which is the pedestal for the Buddha and Bodhisattva. The tower itself contains Buddhist statues, scriptures, valuables and grains. The top of the tower is encircled by thirteen rings, representing the thirteen stages of the Buddha's cultivation, and the top of the tower is composed of a sun, moon and stars.
The ancient tower outside the window stands quietly as a reminder of the past. Langyuan Park may be home to modern buildings nowadays, but it was once a chaotic market selling antiques, handicrafts and second- hand goods. As a key project in the capital's campaign to relocate, renovate and improve the city, Shijingshan District began dismantling the 70,000- squaremetre ( sq. m) flea market which had stood for more than 20 years, and eventually closed it down. After the market shut, the area was refurbished and given a facelift. The traditional Chinese- style architecture in the area has been preserved and renovated, and the area has become a cultural art centre with offices, green spaces, gourmet food and creative design.
To make a difference requires the right time, right place and right people. In February 2014 and 2017, General Secretary Xi Jinping made two inspections of Beijing, issuing important instructions on key issues including relocating Beijing's non- capital infrastructure, integrating the BeijingTianjin-hebei regions, and on the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. As one of Beijing's six urban districts, Shijingshan is an important part of the city and the western gate of the capital, featuring the landmark Chang'an Street which runs through the whole district. Shijingshan District has followed the plan to “integrate landscapes and construct the capital's west gate.” Its new position in the development of the city lends vision to future development. It aims to become a “National Green Transformation Development Demonstration Zone” and the “National Public Cultural Service System Demonstration Zone." Langyuan Park is undoubtedly a beneficiary of the development currently taking place in Shijingshan.
High-end and green transformation is not only a key phrase in the development of Shijingshan, but also a general guideline for the entire district in enhancing services, improving urban features and seeking robust development. In March 2017, Shijingshan launched a special, largescale campaign to dismantle unauthorised construction. Creating more space, increasing green space and upgrading industries in Shijingshan became the talk of the city.
In 2017, Shijingshan demolished a total of 3.9 million sq.m, exceeding the total sum of that demolished over the past 20 years in the district. As part of the special campaign within the city, Shijingshan has maintained a leading position in all 16 districts and counties. It has built an infrastructure and environment which is well-suited for living and commerce. Shijingshan District has prioritised the planning of projects related to people's livelihood and plans to build additional parking, public convenience facilities and green spaces, as well as carry out high-end renovation and other infrastructure projects with the aim of providing more pleasant spaces for its residents. Langyuan Park is one of these high-end projects and part of the transformation and upgrading of the collectively-owned economy. As such, it undertakes the important task of upgrading the Shijingshan cultural and creative industry.
On June 1, 2017, the Shijingshan Investment Promotion Bureau introduced
Langyuan Park, a public cultural project focused on developing the cultural and creative industry.
On the evening of July 29, 2018, "Langyuan Liangyue Study" was unveiled amid the chirping of cicadas. With a small courtyard filled with flowers and butterflies, the Liangyue Study entered public consciousness in a rather literary way.
Peking Opera is the quintessence of China, and the classic work "Legend of the White Snake—broken Bridge" is a bright pearl in this crown. Selected scenes featuring White Snake, Green Snake and Xu Xian were performed at the opening; the costumes and gorgeous vocals showing off the charm of Peking Opera.
In addition to the performance, Liangyue Study also presented two exciting exhibitions. One was a photography collection titled "Tsing Yi Zhang Huoding" related to Peking Opera. Several books promoted on the exhibition's platforms showed the extraordinary charm of this famous Peking Opera performer. Zhang Huoding produced a series of classics in both traditional opera and modern drama, such as Lock Lin Nang and Jiang Jie. The other exhibition was for children's books. In order to provide the public with access to high-quality children's books and explore the infinite possibilities through reading, Liangyue Study joined hands with publisher Duku to host a monthlong exhibition. The books exhibited cover genres such as traditional culture, biographies, popular science and many others. The parent-child activities also allow both adults and children alike to experience a wonderful book tour and feel the joy of reading.
“On the opening day, we prepared 40 seats,” explained general manager Lü Jia. “In total more than 60 families came and many parents brought their children, meaning there were more than 100 people. It was really crowded, and many said they didn't mind standing.” The popularity took staff by surprise. “We had done a lot of work in advance, including market research and so on, so we knew that there was a big demand for reading spaces in Shijingshan, especially public spaces like ours.”
"In 2018, Langyuan came to Shijingshan to build Langyuan Park. With the strong support of the Shijingshan Investment Promotion Bureau and Shijingshan District Cultural Committee, we established Liangyue Study,” Lü Jia announced during the opening ceremony.
Liangyue on the Doorstep
"Liangyue Study" is well-known to many book lovers. 81-year- old Taiwanese writer Bai Xianyong used to give lectures to over 600 readers at Langyuan Vintage in Beijing's CBD area. He recalled the tragic charm of A Dream of the Red Mansions through a lecture organised by Liangyue Urban Study, a new 24hour library jointly created by Langyuan and the Chaoyang District government.
Covering 370 sq.m, the study has over 2,500 books available to borrowers, and since opening in November 2017, has hosted over 60 activities, including lectures, salons, master classes, film screenings, concerts, art exhibitions, plays and performances. Here, participants can experience the charm of art and reading.
Every Langyuan has a certain amount of space set aside for public cultural services to serve the surrounding communities. Langyuan, which has been operating for eight years now, has proved widely popular with people in Beijing with its Master classes, film screenings, Yushe Performing Arts, Vintage Art, Youth Independent Education Camp, Borderless Public Welfare, and Concert programmes. At Languyuan you are spoilt for choice: You can come watch a movie on the weekend, attend a reading salon, or attend a class with friends.
When the residents of Shijingshan heard that Langyuan was planning on opening a new park here, they were extremely excited. “Readers here are different from those at Langyuan Vintage in the CBD area. The location here is closer to ordinary people who have great cultural and artistic needs.” It is a real blessing to be able to enjoy a feast of high-end culture without having to make the trek across Beijing anymore.
"I heard that a library was coming to Shijingshan. I've been coming here to check, and wondered when they'd be opening to the public. Now I come almost every day to read,” a 72-year- old retiree surnamed Wei said. “I used to be a teacher and loved reading. Now I'm retired, I was looking for a good place in my neighbourhood to read. You see, I bring my grandson. He's 7 years old and he really loves reading." Wei pointed to the stairs, where his grandson was sat reading attentively.
Wei is representative of the readers who live in western Beijing, especially in Shijingshan District. It is the expectations of people like him that consolidated Langyuan Park's resolve to provide public cultural services in Shijingshan District. Langyuan Park reproduces and upgrades the mature operation mode of Langyuan Vintage Art Centre and Liangyue Urban Study. It provides more open and sharable spaces which are platforms and carriers of Langyuan's public culture services. It aims to “create an environment where the readers meet culture and art, creating more surprises and touching moments.” Perhaps, in the near future, there will be more “Langyuan fans” and “Liangyue Study fans” just like Wei.
Enjoying Reading Surrounded by Books
As a public welfare study, Liangyue Study in Langyuan Park has injected new vitality into Shijingshan District and even the greater western Beijing area. General manager Lü Jia explained: “Our collection is mainly made up of the 6,000 books supplied by the Shijingshan District Library. Readers can borrow any book for free using their Beijing public library all-purpose card. They can also return books here that are borrowed from other libraries.” Behind her the bookshelves were full of all kinds of new books. A man carrying a backpack entered, looked around, and went directly to the “self-service borrow and return machine” in an open area beside the bookshelves. Mr. Zhang, explained as he took two books from his backpack, “I came to return some books; it's my first time here.” Soon, with the assistance of a staff member, he had returned two books he had borrowed from Shijingshan District Library via the self-service machine. He added, “I'll definitely come back here to read and borrow books. It's also really convenient being able to return books here.” For Mr. Zhang, this location is much closer to his home.
“All-purpose cards” are a special membership card covering the whole public library network in Beijing. Readers with these cards can borrow books from and return them to any member library in the network, no matter which district the library is in. Having joined the system, Langyuan Study, with its rich collection of books, convenient transportation and ease of borrowing and returning, has been warmly welcomed by readers. To be more exact, Liangyue Study is actually a branch of Shijingshan District Library.
“I live nearby, so as soon as I heard about it from my Wechat moments, I came over with my son.” Ms. Li and her five-yearold son, who often used to visit Xidan Book Building, feel excited to have this study so near their home. “It's very cozy here. It's spacious, bright, there's plenty of seats and green plants. Plus, it also supplies drinks such as coffee and mineral water. My son and I can enjoy ourselves reading here.” Beside the self-service machines, there is
also a “Shijingshan digital resources media machine” which readers can use to search for information by themselves, and on the left side of the entrance, there is a “public electronic reading room.” Liangyue Study has enriched cultural life in western Beijing and met readers' need for a library near their homes.
Readers here can not only check the availability of books and their borrowing history via the Internet, but also download e-books and magazines free of charge via the “cloud book borrowing.” Lü Jia explained that Liangyue Study has improved the division of the functional areas: “The study is divided into reading experience area, children's reading area, creative handicrafts experience area and interactive communication area.” Visitors can enjoy reading, share moments with friends, enjoy family time, watch exhibitions and listen to concerts and lectures here. “As a public welfare library, we use books as a binder and position ourselves as a space for offline experiences. Through multi-dimensional cultural activities and fans operation of the member platform, we are exploring the cultural value of books. The limited physical space has been expanded to a broader cultural experience and exchange platform.” The seemingly simple and routine operation has benefited from the management team's in-depth understanding of and commitment to its original aspiration.
The simple but modern library is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows on three sides. No matter the season or where readers sit, they are guaranteed good lighting, a silent environment and an enjoyable reading experience.
Beside the glass windows and green banana leaves, a mother and her five-yearold daughter sat on the staircase reading a picture book of Zhuangzhou's Butterfly Dream. The little girl, holding a cuddly toy provided by the library, smiled and said, “I like reading here. My mum tells stories to me.” In the creative handicraft experience area, several children were playing with colourful toy bricks, with many parents complimenting it as a good choice for spending family time.
The furniture of the study was custommade in different shapes to provide readers with a more spacious and comfortable reading space. The furniture can be moved and combined to satisfy the demands of different events, such as lectures, concerts and theatrical performances. “Besides being a study, it's also an urban cultural platform. We organise different online and offline events, and strive to create a bookcentred interactive multi-scene cultural space, integrating product experience, lifestyle immersion and refined cultural and creative products exhibition. We hope to provide readers with ‘abundant, convenient, efficient and comfortable' cultural experiences and make this place into an important cultural landmark in Shijingshan District.” Liangyue Study's careful research into the types of readers in western Beijing and upgrading of the operation concept, all bode well for the future.
“Notice: From today on, ‘Liangyue Study' will be open from 10:00 to 18:00,” read a message on Langyuan Park's Wechat public account posted on September 7, 2018. Just over a month after the trial operation, the study extended its business hours at the request of readers.
On September 8, only one day after the notice, it announced an even more inspiring message: “The first batch of young volunteers has joined the study.” Originally, equipped with a management team and daily operation team providing basic services, the young volunteers now act both as readers and management staff. They soon took up their role of maintaining a pleasant reading environment in the study. “In just two days last weekend, we received 300 teams of readers... In our online chatroom, hundreds of readers interact and communicate with each other. Plus, there are more similar chatrooms coming soon...” Since its opening, Liangyue Study has been welcoming increasing numbers of readers. Coping with the study's popularity has been the primary challenge in effectively maintaining the reading environment and creating a more reading- centric atmosphere. In order to better spread the joy of reading and create a shared reading space, Liangyue Study recruited young volunteers, “Good morning. This is the self-service borrowing and lending machine,” “Sir, please mind your step.” It is believed that the experience working as volunteers here will help instil a love of reading in more young people, making them more ready to help, better at communicating and more dedicated.
On September 5, Yu Changhui, the party secretary of Shijingshan District,
visited Langyuan Park. He spoke highly of Langyuan's operation concept of creating an open and sharing space, urban square planning, public cultural services and a digital park. “Culture is like a river. Langyuan Park will surely lead the cultural development of Shijingshan District.”
Making full use of the existing buildings and facilities of the original market, and embracing the design and operation concepts of “open” and “sharing,” Langyuan Park integrates ecology, landscaping, cultural and art activities, “intelligent park” and urban businesses, to achieve a borderless connection between the park and the surrounding urban landscape.
At the end of the summer, the willow leaves sway in front of the ancient walls, bamboo flourishes beside the moon gate, and the traditional style courtyard well perfectly complements the Liangyue Study. Langyuan Park also takes the surrounding urban green belts into full consideration. Adhering to the renovation concept of “green, ecological and creative,” a sunken outdoor activity space was integrated into the urban green belt, surrounding Langyuan Park like a “river of art,” forming an art park on the north side of Chang'an Street.
Langyuan Park will become a cultural gateway, focusing on content production centred around cultural and creative science and technology, film and television research and development, culture and art, and youth education. The shared experience area mainly includes Beijing lifestyle experience, flexible spaces and shared spaces. The low-density ecological area features environmentally friendly buildings, clean energy, landscaping and a courtyard. The concept of “borderless and limitless” not only refers to the site's positioning, but also to popularising public welfare concepts using science, technology, art and culture. Its aim is to attract more readers to participate in public welfare activities.
Following the opening of Liangyue Study, Pixel Gallery and Qishe Life Aesthetics Museum, the “7th Langyuan International Creative Culture Festival” will take place in autumn 2018. All three Langyuan parks will participate in the festival, whilst the Langyuan Park in Shijingshan will be the main venue. During the month-long festival, a cultural feast of various high- quality activities will be presented to those living in western Beijing.
Featuring the theme of “inheritance, integration and innovation,” the 7th Langyuan International Creative Culture Festival will focus on urban renewal and public cultural services; organise a series of cultural and creative activities involving design, art, urban renewal, education, music and exhibitions; create a borderless art realm; and explore new life possibilities in the name of culture.
From an old market to an urban study, this locale has retained what makes it interesting. But what exciting activities will be held in Liangyue Study? There will be a large- scale children's picture book exhibition featuring up to 1,500 books and a treasure hunt for children. The children will be selected online and divided into teams allowing them to cooperate and learn whilst also having fun. There will also be a “Time”- themed forum for readers to share insights and exchange ideas on different cultures, explore what influence these cultures have had on them, and look at methods for promoting individual growth. There will also be a “Flag Talk” sports- themed youth speech competition, tea tasting party, oil painting exhibition, aviation show, children's charity flea market, and cultural and creative reading fair. In addition, Langyuan Park will be a sub- venue for Beijing Design Week, helping it invigorate the public culture of Shijingshan.
Langyuan Park in Shijingshan, as with its sister-park of Langyuan Vintage in CBD—A brand demonstration park of cultural and creative industrial parks in Beijing—along Chang'an Street, has introduced the mature development mode and operation resources of the Langyuan brand. Through space redevelopment, cultural implantation and intelligent management, it is gradually becoming a national demonstration zone of the high- end cultural and creative industry and a new calling card for Shijingshan District's cultural and creative industry.
“We'll continue to organise different cultural activities for our readers. We hope that they can rediscover the joy of reading and a get a sense of belonging.” With the rapid rise of Langyuan Park, Liangyue Study, the new landmark of the cultural and creative industry in Shijingshan and even Beijing, is now a new cultural and creative calling card, serving as a public service platform that provides reading for all and spreads the charm of reading.
Inside the Liangyue Study
Architectural elements in Langyuan Park
A reading and play area for children
A self-service machine for borrowing and returning books
Drinks available in the study
Photos of a Peking Opera actress on show