Sunday afternoon, Shenzhen Public Library

I'll say more another time about why I find Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong, such a deeply fascinating part of today's China. Actually, I made a start on the explanation, here. (Subscribers only; subscribe!)

Shenzhen has a relatively new public library building, a twin structure to its new concert hall, the entire complex designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. (Flickr photos of the complex here and here.) The complex is next to a "Book City" store said to be the biggest in the world. I don't know about that, but it's the biggest I've ever seen.

I saw the library this afternoon, a warm and sunny Sunday. I would conservatively estimate that there were 8,000 people inside. Who knows, maybe 10,000. You doubt the numbers? Here was one of many many lines, on one of many floors, for people who were not reading in carrels, or using the hundreds of internet terminals (all with Dell screens, as far as I saw), or browsing through newspapers and magazines, or looking through the stacks, but had chosen their books and were ready to check them out:

But what really got my notice was the foreign-periodicals section. Right below Body & Soul magazine, right above Sea Power, and very close to Human Rights magazine (!) and Military Modelling, was.. well, see for yourself.

It's the current issue, too. No wonder Shenzhen is on the rise.

(Inside-baseball detail: the mailing label says the issue was sent to a Chinese government clearinghouse in New Jersey, which must waste no time in passing copies on to libraries back home.)