Hong Kong Public Libraries

The Hong Kong Public Libraries (HKPL; Chinese: 香港公共圖書館) is a system of 70 static and 12 mobile public libraries in Hong Kong.[1] Offering a total collection of 14.35 million items, the system is managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. The network of libraries are interconnected by a computerised library management system, one of the largest bilingual systems in the world, offering both Chinese and English capabilities.[4]

Hong Kong Public Libraries
Hong Kong Central Library, the location of the head office
Branches70 static, 12 mobile [1]
Size11.36 million books and 1.74 million multimedia materials[2]
Access and use
Circulation60.0 million [2]
Population served7,184,000
Members4.1 million borrowers [2]
Other information
Budget776.2 million HKD [3]
DirectorLee Yuk-man, Leisure and Culture Services Assistant Director (Libraries and Development)
WebsiteOfficial website
Hong Kong Public Libraries
Traditional Chinese香港公共圖書館
Simplified Chinese香港公共图书馆
Tuen Mun Public Library

The library head office is located on the eleventh floor of the Hong Kong Central Library in Causeway Bay.[5][6]



The first public library of Hong Kong, the City Hall Library, was established in 1869 in the former Hong Kong City Hall.[7] The library ceased to operate after the demolition of the old city hall in 1933.

The first modern library opened in 1962 at the new City Hall, which was also the central library for many years before the opening of the Central Library. Over ten thousand library cards were issued in the first month of service, and borrowers were limited to only one book at a time.[8] The second location and the first in Kowloon was the Waterloo Road Library, opened 1965 (later replaced by the Kowloon Public Library in 1984). The Pok Fu Lam Public Library opened next in December 1970 in the newly constructed Wah Fu Estate, and has served that community continuously for over 40 years.[9] The first public library in the New Territories opened in Fuk Loi Estate, Tsuen Wan New Town, in 1974.[8] In 1976 the first mobile library was introduced.[8] The Tsuen Wan Central Library, at the time of its opening in July 1993, was the largest library in Hong Kong.[10]

The public libraries were originally administered by either the Urban Council or Regional Council, depending on the location. When the municipal councils were abolished in 1999, the library systems were merged under the newly formed Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

The Hong Kong Central Library was completed in 2001 and is the largest public library in the territory. This twelve-story building is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and serves as the administrative headquarters and main library of the public library network. It is also the major information centre for Hong Kong.[11]

Security issue

Since the popularity of the smartphone, the Hong Kong Public Libraries have posted up many "No Phototaking" signs.

All libraries in Hong Kong are subject to "Library Regulations" Regulators, the only part of the regulation is out of date. Such as listening area and viewing area, no person shall ─ more than one record or listen to a song, or repeat playing of any record or song; or watch more than one movie or watch a movie more than once.[clarification needed][12]

The library also prohibits photo taking and video recording, especially after smartphones gained popularity since around 2012. Many "No photo-taking" signs are set up in several locations, including the entrance, children's library, staircase, and study rooms. The library also has security to maintain order, including the enforcement of the "No photo-taking" rule. The library does not allow general citizens to apply for photography; only commercial filming is allowed, and standard fees apply.[13]



Book censorship


In July 2020, after the passage of the Hong Kong national security law, under the direction of the authorities, the library authority removed select pro-democracy books and marked them "under review". At least nine books were removed, including books by Joshua Wong, Tanya Chan and Horace Chin.[14][15]

In 2021, it was discovered that libraries had removed 29 titles about the Tiananmen Massacre, with a total of 263 copies removed.[16]

In May 2023, books by cartoonist Zunzi were removed from public libraries, with the LCSD saying, "Hong Kong Public Libraries will periodically review and remove books that do not comply with the development of the collection. Books that are suspected to potentially violate national security law or Hong Kong laws will be immediately removed for review."[17] Hong Kong Free Press reported on multiple titles that were removed since 2020.[18]

In July 2023, the LCSD said that the public is "welcome" to report books that may violate the national security law.[19]

See also



  1. ^ a b "Hong Kong Public Libraries - Introduction". Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Hong Kong Government. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Cultural services". Annual Report 2012-13. Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  3. ^ p. 200, "Head 95 - Leisure and Cultural Services Department" (PDF). 2011–12 Budget. John Tsang. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  4. ^ Lau 2002, pp. 198.
  5. ^ "library_list_eng.pdf." Hong Kong Public Libraries. Retrieved on 18 April 2017. "Hong Kong Public Libraries Head Office 11/F., 66 Causeway Road, Causeway Bay."
  6. ^ "Location Map of the Hong Kong Central Library." Hong Kong Public Libraries. Retrieved on 18 April 2017. "66 Causeway Road, Causeway Bay"
  7. ^ Murray, Stuart (2009). The Library: An Illustrated History. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 252. ISBN 978-1602397064.
  8. ^ a b c "March 2007 issue". Library Newsletter. Hong Kong Public Libraries. Archived from the original on 1 April 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  9. ^ "May 2011 issue". Library Newsletter. Hong Kong Public Libraries. Archived from the original on 4 June 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  10. ^ Lau 2002, pp. 199.
  11. ^ Murray, Stuart A. P. “The Library: An Illustrated History.” New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2012, p. 252.
  12. ^ "Hong Kong e-Legislation". www.elegislation.gov.hk.
  13. ^ "Welcome to Film Services Office – How To Apply". www.fso-createhk.gov.hk.
  14. ^ Westbrook, Laura (4 July 2020). "National security law: Hong Kong libraries pull books by some localist and democracy activists for review". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  15. ^ "Hong Kong security law: Pro-democracy books pulled from libraries". BBC. 5 July 2020. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  16. ^ Cheng, Selina (2021-11-21). "Exclusive: Hong Kong public libraries purge 29 titles about the Tiananmen Massacre from the shelves". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  17. ^ Cheng, Mandy (2023-05-12). "Books by satirical cartoonist Zunzi disappear from Hong Kong public libraries after paper axes comic". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  18. ^ "'Not recommended' reading: The books Hong Kong is purging from public libraries". Hong Kong Free Press. 2023-05-26. Retrieved 2023-05-27.
  19. ^ Cheng, Mandy (2023-07-06). "Hongkongers 'welcome' to report library books that may endanger national security". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Retrieved 2023-07-06.


  • Lau, Y.W. (2002). A History of the Municipal Councils of Hong Kong 1883-1999. Hong Kong: Leisure and Cultural Services Department. ISBN 962-7039-41-1.