A 24h Reading Cafe opens alongside the Liwa River


FOR most students, finding a quiet table in the university hasn't necessarily been easy to come by. Even though in today’s world, amongst heated discussion on whether actual bookstores are disappearing from society, people can’t help but wonder if a bookstore alone has lost some of its value to people of modern society. Instead, a public space that not only is suitable for reading books but also allows people to share this experience, in a comfortable setting, could come to dominate the era. This dream has become a reality on the romantic Liwa riverside at ECNU.

Opening ceremony of the 24H Reading Space.

Initiated by the ECNU Press, the 24Hr Reading Cafe is a place for reading and critical thinking, in addition to a platform for teacher-student dialogues.

At the opening ceremony, chairman of University Council Tong Shijun spoke as a college administrator, teacher, former ECNU student and neighbor. “This ever-lighted library is the continuance of the literature legacy of ECNU as well as the innovation of ECNUers, he declared. It is situated on ECNU campus but it has wide influence throughout the community and society, which makes ECNUers proud to be a part of it.”

Chairman of the University Council Tong Shijun dedicates a speech.

The 24Hr Reading Cafe received support from multiple sources; it aims to create a multifunctional, 24-hour public café for cultural exchange and liberal arts. This will serve as a landmark at ECNU for a variety of cultural activities, traditional folklore, and other provided resources from both in and outside of the campus.

The 24Hr Reading Cafe is located at the interior riverside café of the Yifu Building on Zhongbei campus, a part of it was rebuilt to make the reading cafe more convenient for students and faculty.

According to the designers, its inspiration came from the beautiful Liwa River and books of ECNU press. The waves symbolize the Liwa River, while the grates represent the books being opened by the wind. The whole ceiling and walls are seamlessly jointed while the bookshelves, symbolizing the interrelationship between Liwa River and reading, blend into the ceiling. 

Moreover, the decoration came from ideas put forth by scholars who took part in designing the reading cafe. They emphasized both comfort and elegance - in other words, a tea aroma accompanied with the rhythmic motion of ink.

The reading cafe is divided into four zones: activity experience zone, 24Hr self-service reading zone, Gongfu Tea zone and beverage zone. This is not a bookstore; it is a library where the light burns and never fades.

“The 24H Reading Space"

The ECNU Press was founded in 1957 and became one of the two earliest university publishing companies since the establishment of PRC. Many of the books are displayed in the reading cafe where students can read newly published books free of charge.

There is a themed book club, new book sharing club and author’s meetings held in the 24Hr Reading Cafe. If you are interested in a particular book, the reading cafe will help you place an order at the click of a mouse. This renders the experience of “reading in the cafe, having books delivered on the way”. 

Additionally, the R&D and service of the products at the beverage counter are provided by the enterprise team comprising some of ECNU's outstanding students. The team have also introduced tea artworks of intangible cultural heritage that includes six major sorts of tea: in order to guide teachers and students to experience traditional Chinese tea culture.

The team have introduced tea artworks of intangible cultural heritage.

The R&D and service of the products at the beverage counter provided by the enterprise team.

Even procured raw materials of other major tea-producing regions are on display from places such as Europe, Japan, South Africa, India, Vietnam, etc. This goes along with the public reading space's development in cultural and creative products - integrating culture into entity - apart from the exquisite books, delicious beverages and engaging activities that most students will come in for.

As the books float beside the Liwa River and their shadows linger, with the aroma of ink and the burning light of lamps, ECNU has brought another valuable reading café into fruition that will not only serve as a public study room but will remain as a humanistic memory at the Zhongbei campus.

Edited by Linlan Zhang    Proofread by Joshua Mayfield    Reviewed by Wenjun Guo


East China Normal University