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Get Bookish at the National Library



Beijing has several bookstores for the literarily inclined, but a visit to the National Library of China is worth putting on your agenda. The south end is under construction but the north building is a grand structure that is worth a visit- regardless of whether or not you check out the books and periodicals.


After entering, take the escalator in the lobby, which goes directly to the top floor. Prepare for a breathtaking view of the main reading room. On the middle levels there is one floor primarily dedicated to foreign language periodicals and books. There is quite a wide variety of up to date journals.


Got kids? There’s a children’s library that is entered from outside at the north end. Bring their passports to get a card. On weekends, only children 6 six years old and over are allowed inside for crowd control purposes. Most materials are in Chinese, and are a mix of magazines, encyclopedias and picture books.


Looking for something in particular? The National Library even has an app, in Chinese, for searching or browsing for books and periodicals. 


Getting in: Bring your passport along and fill out an application for a free reader’s card. This will get you into all the reading rooms. No browsing without one. 


Getting there: Take subway Line 4 to the aptly named National Library of China stop. Take Exit A and keep walking past the construction until you get to the first big building, and then follow the crowds. The library is right next to Zizhuyuan Park, which is also worth a visit. Combine a library visit with a trip to the Zoo, Planetarium or Zoo market, one more subway stop down. 


Need to know: No food or drinks are allowed inside but water machines are scattered throughout where you can leave your own bottle. There is a coffee shop on the south end. Backpacks must be checked into a locker. Security and quietness is strictly enforced, with guards stationed throughout the main reading room. Wifi is available, but spotty.


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