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Tianyi Pavilion, Ningbo
Tianyi Pavilion, Ningbo
Tianyi Pavilion (Tian Yi Ge) is the oldest private library in existence in China. Occupying an area of 26,000 square meters (about 6.4 acres), it lies beside the picturesque Ming Lake in Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province. The library has amassed a collection of 300,000 volumes, 80,000 of which are rare books.

Tianyi Pavilion was built in 1561 in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). The founder of this library was called Fan Qin, who had been appointed as an official in several cities around China. Having a liking for books, Fan Qin collected local annals, records about jinshi (successful candidate in the highest imperial examination held in the palace under the emperor's supervision) of various dynasties and contemporary anthologies. Books given by Fan's friends and handwritten copies of books were an important part of the collection. Thanks to his efforts, the library already had 70,000 volumes at the time of his death.

Books treasured in Tianyi Pavilion
Books treasured in Tianyi Pavilion
Unfortunately, only 13,000 volumes remained at the time of the foundation of the PRC, because a great many of them either were expropriated by the bureaucracies, stolen or fell into decay. Recent generations were committed to the protection and enlargement of the library. In the 1950s, some books were found and some others were donated by the local book collectors.

The Fan family adopted a discipline that no one in the family was allowed to claim any book as his or her own property, and books were prohibited from being taken out of the pavilion. Tianyi Pavilion was the private property of the Fan family, so others including women of the Fan family, were not allowed to read books in the library. However, books and materials are now available to experts and scholars for research purposes. From the books and steles kept in the library, information on the education, economic development, literary and revolutionary history of Ningbo City can be learnt.

Admission Fee: CNY 30 (Adult);CNY 15 (Kid)
Bus Route: take No. 371, 512 and get off at Tianyige station