This article is excerpted from “Four Seasons of Advanced Research Institute (External Type: Observer)” (authorized by Guangxi Normal University Press), original title: “Books Museum impression “, author: Liang Zhiping (contemporary eminent jurists main research areas of legal history, legal culture, law and society), from the title figure: vision China


In Columbia, what can be called a campus is very small. The law school building is next to the road and is connected to the main campus by a cross-street bridge. At this end of the bridge, close to the glass windows of the building, there is a strangely shaped modernist sculpture: flying horsehair, clasped giant hand, huge horse hoof stretched forward and backward in both directions, and in the middle of the sculpture, a large sheet The mouth of the horse head (God knows if it is a horse) struggling to stretch out. This ugly monster feels oppressive and uncomfortable.

Go in through the door under the sculpture, which happens to be the library of the law school. Professor E told me that in the law department, the number of books here is second only to the Library of Congress and the Harvard Law School Library, ranking third in the country, which makes me very happy.

The first floor of the library is divided into two parts, most of which are used to store books. The small area in front contains the main book retrieval equipment, and book borrowing and returning are also handled here. This place is small, but quiet and elegant, and some rooms still have Chinese calligraphy and paintings. Behind the borrowing desk, there is a dedicated elevator leading to the library on the fifth floor, but for readers, to enter the library on the first floor, they must take the stairs to the library on the second floor.

The library on the first and second floors are integrated into one, forming a self-contained system. It is spacious and bright, with plenty of light. At the entrance of the second floor, there are two computers for retrieval, and a mirror frame is erected next to it. Inside is a distribution map of the entire library. The corner of the left hand displays the major American law magazines, separated by a sofa and a coffee table (not for tea, of course) to form a small reading room. On both sides of the library, there are tables and chairs along the tall glass windows. The rolls of “Legal Reports” and other books are neatly arranged on the shelf, making it easy to access. There is also a copying department on the second floor. Those who need to make copies can put the copy card bought in advance into the machine, and then they can operate it by themselves.

You can use a card locker to find books, or you can use a computer. The latter is divided into two systems, the main library and the whole school. It is quick and easy to use. The only problem is that the computer may be wrong. For example, when I checked a 1976 edition of a book, the computer screen said: There is no such book until June 1988, which makes me puzzled. Because even if you count the time difference between the book entry, numbering and computer information input and storage, this kind of thing shouldn’t happen. Besides, a friend told me that he had seen this book here before. Naturally, this kind of problem is just a small mistake, and it does not affect the overall situation. If it is affected by a “virus”, the problem is not so simple. Every time human beings invent a new thing, it will bring new problems, and book management is no exception.

The five floors of the library mainly store theoretical and historical books, including jurisprudence, ancient law, medieval law, Roman law, canon law, legal history, oriental law, etc., which I am more interested in. The library of Columbia Law School is where I go the most. I have seen the first and second floor of the library before coming here, there will be a sharp contrast in the senses. Not only is the place narrow, the light is dim, and the bookcase spacing is also narrow. The books on the shelf look worn out and lack luster. After several rounds, my hands were covered with black and gray, and my notebook was also covered with black handprints. This is a library that is rarely visited by people. It is deserted and deserted. There is only a large table at the elevator entrance, and further down there are old machinery, empty bookshelves and some aged sundries. This is not so much a modern library as it is a large warehouse for stacking old books.

Once human wisdom becomes provisions, people will only care about the provisions and no longer value the wisdom itself. This is true everywhere, not just Americans who practice pragmatism.


I have visited Columbia Law School and I am deeply impressed by the ease of studying and the convenience of doing things there. Only when I arrived at Harvard did I realize the shabby and crudeness of the former.

Columbia Law School shares a building with others, but Harvard Law School occupies an entire building complex, connecting ground and underground. Its library is divided into two parts, the main part of which is in “Langdell” (Langdell) , which is a tall and majestic building The building, densely covered with ivy vines covering its outer walls and pillars, is solemnThere is elegance in it. The main hall of the library is located on the fourth floor, and the entrance is always the size of an auditorium. Below the high chandelier, the walls are full of dictionaries. There is a wide aisle in the center of the hall, where you can arrange activities like photo exhibitions (When I went there happened to be a comic exhibition exposing corruption in the French judicial circle in the 19th century , Very lively and interesting). On one side of the aisle, there are card cabinets and computers and other book retrieval equipment, and on the other side there are tables, chairs, and sofas for reading. The students were scattered in twos and threes, some were thinking hard, some were struggling with writing, and some fell asleep on the table.

Standing in such a hall, a trace of sadness suddenly appeared in my heart. I think of my college career, of the hopeless life my students are repeating today, the ever-crowded reading room, the chaotic and dirty air, the difficulty of borrowing books, the hardship of seeking knowledge…I don’t complain about matter. The conditions are difficult, but I can’t help feeling the decline of culture. The humanistic atmosphere that was created thousands of years ago, those arguments, lectures, academies, and patriarchal demeanor, disappeared one by one. The way of learning is really out of place in China today.

In the retrieval equipment in the lobby, there is a microfilm magnifier, which I haven’t seen in Columbia Law School. After trying it out, it is very easy to operate, but it takes a long time to look at it. I found several books I wanted there, and by the way, I went to the huge maze-like library underneath the hall. Among the books I’m looking for, there is another one about Roman law. According to the management method here, a batch of books including Roman law and canon law are not on the open shelves. You must go to the borrowing desk to ask staff to represent you. take. This is very different from what I saw in the library of Columbia Law School. From here, perhaps we can see the different attitudes towards learning of these two almost the same famous law schools.


Columbia and Harvard both have “East Asian Departments”, and both have special collections of East Asian books. In Columbia, it is the East Asian Library, and in Harvard, it is the Yenching Library. Be “hidden”. In terms of scale, it seems that the East Asian Library is slightly larger. This may be because its collection is not limited to China, but also includes East Asian countries such as Japan. However, Chinese books are the most important part, and there is no problem.

The two libraries have a rich collection of books. It is said that many of them are isolated and rare books at home and abroad, and they are truly treasures for scholars. The Chinese newspapers and periodicals reading department of the library collects quite a lot of Chinese newspapers and magazines, and it often attracts many readers. People care about current affairs far more than their hobbies of learning. This is probably a common practice in ancient and modern China and abroad.

The famous library of such a famous university not only attracts scholars and general readers who are interested in the Chinese world, but also attracts many visitors. I once wandered aimlessly in the library. In this foreign country’s bookstore, everything I can see is familiar squares. The feeling is not only cordial, but also a bit strange. I remember that it was in the Yenching Library of Harvard, standing in the middle of the house full of sutras, histories, sons, collections, Buddhist scriptures, and Taoism, suddenly facing a living history, feeling inexplicable. Thousands of years of accumulation of wisdom, the crystallization of hard work, are here. It’s a pity that they all come to an end, and only some scholars with weird temperaments pay attention to them. However, reading a lot of books and deep learning, but if you can’t inherit the tradition, pass on civilization, go straight to the source of wisdom, study the roots of things, and make them flourish and rejuvenate, what is the benefit of Hao Shou’s poor classics? The so-called Reading, the so-called learning, is to engage in intelligent dialogue and inter-mental communication, so that life can be blended and prospered.

I was also in the Yenching Library. I wanted to find a copy of Aristotle’s “Politics” translated by Wu Shoupeng, but I could not find the book, but I saw a bunch of “Politics” published in China in recent years. The tutorials and readers are very disapproving in my heart. It is not surprising that there are people who use this as a way to make a living, but the prestigious Yenching Library is not a garbage collection station. Even if it is neutral in value and eclectic, it cannot be a “book” and just hide it. Nowadays, what kind of book can’t be written, and what kind of person can’t write a book! There is no way of writing. If eight-legged essays are also valuable, it is not because they are scarce, but because they at least retain some of the inherent characteristics of the Chinese language. And these modern “steaks” are not only boring and empty in content, but also lifeless, and the character of the Chinese language has also been lost. At this moment, talking about “books” and “culture” is really a kind of blasphemy, as if calling such things as “politics” is a great disrespect for the sages who founded this discipline.

Naturally, books can have the function of entertaining people, and it is not necessary to teach people to behave well and sit tightly. In this regard, neither the Yenching Library nor the East Asia Library has any taboos. According to my observation, these libraries have the highest borrowing rate, and the books are the most dilapidated because of this, neitherThe ancient classics, history, essays, and anthologies are not the masterpieces of modern people, but the martial arts novels of Jin Yong and Gu Long. I think their readers are not all idlers. Assuming that there is no pressure in life, I don’t know how many people are willing to continue their studies, let alone maintain a love for wisdom.


There are probably no fewer than 80 libraries under the name of Harvard. The largest one is called Widener(Widener), just In the famous “Harvard Yard” (Harvard Yard). This is a comprehensive library that accepts the most readers.

This is a majestic building with a row of round stone pillars on top of high stone steps. Anyone can enter the library from there without any documents. This library is named after a person named Harry Elkins Widener ( Harry Elkins Widener).

This Widener studied at Harvard and graduated in 1907. Five years later, on April 15th, he was tragically killed on the “Titanic” that sank in the ice. Widener collected a lot of precious English literature during his lifetime, and donated it to his alma mater after his death. His mother donated money to build this library as a memorial to the dead. There is a small exhibition room on the second floor of the library, dedicated to storing books donated by Widener, with a total of about 3,000 volumes. These books are mainly for people to visit, if necessary, they can also be consulted after certain procedures.

The furnishings of this Widener showroom are simple, but very quaint. Except for the door and the fireplace facing the door, the four walls of the exhibition room are neatly lined up with bookcases equipped with glass doors, all the way up to the ceiling. There are also a few glass-inlaid exhibits in the room, and a few large open books are placed inside for people to observe. There, I saw the famous “Gutenberg Bible” (Gutenberg Bible). It belongs to the earliest movable type printed books in the Western world, and it was published around 1450.Between 1456 and 1456. It is a very large book, laid out flat and well-printed. The passage of time did not make the pages of the book yellow. There seems to be a black font with nicks, densely packed, with a very special charm.

I noticed that the books here, no matter the size or length of the book, seem to have one thing in common, that is, the design is elegant and simple, the materials used are heavy and strong, and the binding is more sophisticated. At a glance, they belong to another era, an era in which paperbacks are not yet known. In that era, people had very different views of books from ours. At that time, books were a luxury for only a few people; the commercial benefits attached to books were far less prominent and important than they are today; writing a book than reading, and publishing a book has more “qualification” requirements than writing a book; culture It is not a rush to become the king of self-reliance, but the taste and fashion of the intellectual class composed of a few people. The books handed down from that era have become works of art for us. What’s weird about it?

I have to stay in this room for a while every time I go to the Widener Library. I like the books and the atmosphere here. I used to think, since there were such beautiful books in the 15th century, what would people do to invent the steam engine? This idea may be laughed at by people today as foolishness, but I want to say that it is not unfounded in history. Isn’t it the Chinese who first invented printing? However, we did not build the steam engine. This fact may prove such a statement: The new world is not created by technological inventions, but by the results of people’s use of technological inventions, as well as other activities in the process of using technological inventions. People in the world often start from here to criticize Chinese culture, but I am willing to argue for it.

On the afternoon of the last Friday of every month, the Widener Library sells used books in the library. I have been to such an event twice. I bought a copy of “The Church in the Middle Ages” for the first time, a thin book, one of the “Evolution of Western Civilization” series, authored by M. W. Baldwin(M. W. Baldwin). I went there for the second time and bought a book, the “Cultural Significance of Religious Reformation” by Karl Hall(Karl Hall), a small format, Blue cover, hardcover on canvas. After I bought the books, I flipped through the table of contents and put aside the introduction. I don’t know when to read them again. Just seeing them, I think of the Widener Library, thinking of the Widener library, I am always happy.


I bought a 1953 edition of The Encyclopedia Americana in New York. It is at hand at this moment. In the seventeenth volume at the beginning of “L”, there is a “library” item. I was a little surprised that such an ordinary term actually took up a full forty pages, which is not even divided into Seven groups of 105 pictures are attached to them.

The modern library has a history of only a few hundred years, but the oldest library in history has existed as early as five thousand years ago. The history of the library is the history of human civilization. In this way, forty pages and one hundred and five pictures are not too many for such an item.

It is not difficult to understand the history of libraries and the importance of such a cause in human civilization, especially in modern society. However, knowledge is one thing, experience is another. For example, I am willing to praise this cause that mankind is proud of, while facing away from the surrounding libraries, I do not easily step into its door. Because according to my past experience, the so-called library is probably just a place where some books are collected and used to torture readers. There, the joy of reading is often not worth the troubles and unhappiness experienced because of borrowing books.

However, in the libraries of Columbia and Harvard, I have gained another kind of experience.

The collections of these university libraries are rich and diverse, and the biggest thing they have in common, at least in my opinion, is the speed and convenience of use. During the year, except for a few festivals, they are always open. And in a day, if I take my personal life as the standard, they not only open when I wake up, but usually last until I fall asleep. In addition, they have the advantage of easy access and convenient use. Except for some libraries affiliated to various colleges and departments, which may require readers to show ID cards of members of the system, there is usually no need to bring ID cards when entering and leaving the library. When you enter the library, you are your own world. There are no tightly guarded counters, frosty faces, and will not be told after waiting hard that there is no such book.

In these places, you must do it yourself whether you look up ISBNs or put books in the library. When you get the book you need, you can read it in the library (there are seats there, no number is required), or you can move home as much as you can (student ID or other certificates issued by the school for borrowing books). There is no limit on the number of borrowed books, but there is a strict time limit. Those who fail to return the books will be fined. The amount of fine is not too much, just to make readers remember to return the book when it is due. Having said that, Americans have not borrowed and stored public books for many years, not because of their own bad habits, not just because of fear of being punished, but mostly because of moral self-consciousness. Books are always in circulation, as they are many and fast, and the problem of having books and books is not easy to happen.

As a result of open-shelves borrowing, naturally, it is allowed to bring bags in and out of the library and even the library. The way to prevent thieves is to conceal a magnet in the book and demagnetize it when borrowing it. This method is probably learned from the supermarket, and its success or failure can naturally be judged by the management of the market. When I was at Harvard, I found that the famous Widener Library and Lamont ( Lamont) library did not adopt this management method, just Arranging one or two old school workers at the gate to inspect the schoolbags. This practice still makes me feel strange.

Because most of the things are done by the readers themselves, and the library’s borrowing procedures are extremely simple, there are too few staff in the library. There are also some tasks that are usually undertaken by work-study students, such as returning books that have been used by readers and scattered in the library. Everyone is focused on their own affairs, and all that is left is the silence of the sea of ​​books. Just find a corner between the bookshelves to sink, and you can get endless pleasure. This is happiness that I have never experienced before. After having this kind of experience, I believe that If the system is not arranged properly, living people are the most annoying animals in the world.

When a library is established, it is natural to store a lot of books, but the purpose of book collection is to provide convenience for readers. This is not only the original purpose of the library, but also an important criterion for us to judge the quality of the library. There are many benefits to a well-arranged library, many of which I have not mentioned, or even thought of. If you get used to your previous life, you will feel that they are all luxury items. Make an ordinaryReaders, these conveniences are enough.

Book Title: The Four Seasons of Advanced Research Institute

Subtitle: Other: Observer

Author: Liang Zhiping

Publishing time: January 2021

Price: 56.00 yuan

This article is taken “IAS Four Seasons (outside one of: an observer)” (authorized by the Guangxi Normal University Press), author: Liang Zhiping ( Contemporary well-known jurists. The main research fields are legal history, legal culture, law and society)