Today I applied for a Taipei Public Library card. There Taipei Public Library has 58 branches in Taipei City, with multiple branches in each district! Did you know that you can apply for a temporary library card while visiting Taipei? It is valid for one month or until the last day of your extended visa. You can even sign up for a library card online and have access to the Taipei Public Library’s electronic resources. All you need is your passport number.
I am planning to buy a few books while we are here but definitely not hauling back a full suitcase. Back home we are lucky to live across from a Library with a great selection of Chinese books. Libraries are a valuable resource and borrowing books can save a lot of money. Children’s books, in my opinion, are pricey! Come on, $12 (USD) for a board book with a few words??? It’s also nice to borrow books to make sure your children are interested before purchasing. We have so many books at home that my kids never want to read. Of course, the want to read the same book over and over again, to the point that I have to hide it!
Beitou Library Branch
For three months we will be living across from the Taipei Public Library’s Beitou branch. This location has a children’s section downstairs. I was very surprised to find that most of the books are in poor condition, pages torn, binding falling apart, and of course discs missing. There is a nice selection of English books for younger children. The selection of Chinese books for the preschool and under is disappointingly small, with a couple of shelves to sift through. This is not a library I can actually bring my children to as they are very strict about their no talking, no noise, and no playing policy.
At the Beitou Library, storytime is for children ages 6 and up. This is very different from the fun storytime events we’ve attended in New York and California. Storytime is held in a classroom and children sit at desks. No one is allowed to speak. We were asked to leave because my children, 2 and 4, are too young to attend and will make too much noise. The main library branch located in Taipei’s Da’an District hosts a baby and toddler storytime.
That said, I hope my feedback on the library will not prevent you from visiting. I will still peruse it while the kids are in school. The Beitou Library is located in Beitou Park and is surrounded by 4 ponds filled with fish, turtles, tadpoles, and frogs. It’s a quick walk from the Xinbeitou MRT station, the Ketagalan Culture Center (free), Beitou Public Hotspring, Thermal Valley, the Beitou Hotsprings Museum, and the Xinbeitou playground.
Free Digital Chinese Books For Kids
If you are not able to apply for a Taiwan public library card, you can still get access to hundreds of free resources online. Go to the 兒童文化館 (Online Children’s Culture Center) where you can find audiobooks, digital books, and more. It’s all free and no sign up required.