Beijing Subway now offers a library of free E-Books for passengers

BEIJING (China) – On the subway in Beijing, as in most cities with underground Wi-Fi connections, commuters usually spend their rides mindlessly staring at their phones, scrolling through emails or playing games. But now riders on one metro line have another option: With a scan of a QR code inside the train car, they can access a library of free electronic library.

The books are curated by the National Library of China (NLC), which hopes to help make people more likely to read in everyday life. Working with subway operator Beijing MTR, the library launched the new “M Subway Library” this year.

According to, the deputy curator of the National Library, Wei Dawei, said that he hopes the program can help increase the public facilities’ cultural atmosphere and enable the reading and knowledge to “move” and be alive in people’s daily lives.

Working with subway operator Beijing MTR, the library launched the new M Subway Library in January
Working with subway operator Beijing MTR, the library launched the new M Subway Library

Carriages on Line 4 of the city’s metro feature barcodes which people can scan with their tablets or smartphones, China’s BTV News channel reports. They’ll be able to choose from a selection of ten books, which will change every couple of months.

The first books available are about historical Chinese texts. “I think we have found a great, effective and handy tool to make traditional culture popular,” says Rong Jun, a spokesman from the city government, which is supporting the initiative along with the National Library.

Officials are hoping it will encourage people to read more, and passengers interviewed on the underground were pleased with the new resource. “It’s pretty interesting,” one man using the e-library tells the CCTV news channel. “You can gain an understanding of traditional Chinese culture – it’s excellent.” Another man tells the channel it will help keep people occupied during journeys.

“Often you’re sitting on the subway for a long time,” he says. “Now you can scan a barcode and read a book. Even if you’re just browsing for a while, that’s pretty good.” If readers get a taste for the books they find on their phones, they’re in the right place to reach an even bigger selection; Line 4 has a dedicated stop for getting to the National Library in person.

Beijing’s first underground library was made accessible for passengers on Subway Line 4 this month. Passengers can scan a QR code in their subway car to read online books for free, according to the Guangming Daily.

The underground library, launched by the Beijing MTR Corporation and the National Library, also gives users access to regular cultural activities. The first activity, “Our Characters,” teaches passengers the heritage, meaning, and culture of various Chinese characters, hoping to arouse people’s interest in the etymology of Chinese.

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