Established in October 1957, the library of Inner Mongolia University was the first library in a comprehensive university in a national minority area after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Inner Mongolia University started to enroll postgraduate students in 1962, and was designated as one of the key universities in China in 1978, authorized for conferring doctoral degree in 1984, listed as the one of the 100 universities under the 211 Project in 1997, designated as a university for co-construction by the government of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the Ministry of Education in 2004, and selected for the Program for Enhancing Comprehensive Strength of Universities in the Central and Western regions. With the construction and development of IMU, the library has undergone tremendous changes, as is indicated by the ever-expanding literature resources, quickened pace in its modernization endeavor, higher quality in its service for the readers and the increasingly important role in the teaching, academic research and cultivation of talents in IMU. The implementation of the 211 Project and the Program for Enhancing Comprehensive Strength of Universities in the Central and Western regions has significantly promoted the development of the library. At present, the library is a member of the Library and Information Committee for Universities of the Ministry of Education, directing member of the Library Society of China, Class B member of the joint catalog project of the CALIS, one of 15 provincial centers for CALIS literature and information service in China, CALIS training center in the western regions, one of the novelty searching stations of the Ministry of Education （L23）and the national literature and information center for Mongolian studies and ethnological studies of the Ministry of Education, etc. The library has evolved into the largest base for Mongolian literature and information in China, the largest and most modernized comprehensive literature and information center in Inner Mongolia and one of the most popular libraries on campuses.
I. Well-equipped facilities
The first independent building for the library with an area of 5,400 m² was set up in 1978; the phase I project of the new library with an area of 5,600 m² completed in 1989 expanded the total area the library to 11,000 m². In 2000, the second-stage library project, one of the “1995” and “211 project” key construction programs, was finished and came into use. As a key project under the 9th Five-Year Plan and the 211 Project, the phase II project of the library completed in 2000 with the construction area of 16,000 m², presented in combination with the phase I project a landmark structure on the campus with both elegance and striking characteristics of the times. In 2009, the library of the south campus of IMU with an area of 28,000 m² was completed and put into operation, which further expanded the total area of the library up to 44,000 m² and prompted the library into the stage of development by leaps and bounds. After more than one year’s internal and external renovation from October 2014 to October 2015, the library has been improved both in its environment and in its facilities. There are 3,276 seats in the reading rooms in the libraries on both campuses. The multi-functional auditoriums can accommodate academic conferences of various sizes and categories. The reading environment of the library is well-lit, well-ventilated, warm, comfortable and well-equipped. The distribution of the resources of the library is more rational and human-oriented, complete with local characteristics and ethnic features. The RFID self-service borrowing-and-returning system and seat management system as well as the self-service duplicating, printing and scanning facilities illustrate the advantages of self-service and sharing and represent the full actualization of automated and digitalized management mode.
II. Literature resources with distinctive features
At the beginning of the establishment of the library of IMU, following the instructions of Premier Zhou Enlai, 12 universities in China including Peking University, Tsinghua University, Nankai University, Xiamen University and Shandong University offered selfless assistance to IMU library by donating altogether more than 140，000 volumes of books, which made it possible for the library of IMU to build on an initial collection of 174,000 volumes of books. In 1959, Premier Zhou presented in person the duplicated Beijing Version of the Tibetan Tripitaka to the library. By the end of the 12th Five Year Plan, IMU had accumulated a collection of 3.3 million volumes of printed books, of which 2.6 million are at the library on the main campus while 500,000 held by its subdivisions (the Transportation Institute and the Manzhouli College). The e-resources construction features databases for full length literature of comprehensive and key disciplines. So far there are 95 Chinese and foreign language databases more than 40,000 kinds of whole text e-journals. The independently-built database and the distinctive database have been further improved, and a guarantee system for literature resources with distinctive ethnic features and local characteristics featuring Mongolian studies and life sciences has been established.
The library of Inner Mongolia University is the largest Mongolian literature center in China. Since its establishment, the library has attached great importance to the collection and construction of Mongolian literature. In 1986, the Department of Mongolian Studies was set up, specializing in Mongolian language and resource construction, reading services, research and development related to literature of Mongolian studies.
In 2001, based on the collection of Mongolian literature resources, the library made use of its own advantages and local national characteristics, and started digitalized research and development of the Mongolian literature. After over 10 years of development and research, the Document Management Integration System—Yaleba System was developed independently. Databases for the number of Mongolian literature on file, full-length Mongolian books, full-length Mongolian academic journals, digitalized Ganggyur (Mongolian version of Tripitaka) and other ancient Mongolian literature have been built. The China Mongolian Studies Information Network constructed the library is the storehouse for information resources for Mongolian studies and the largest information portals and service platform for Mongolian studies at the moment.
At the same time the library has actively carried out the library information science research, literature research and development. The library presided over research projects at national, provincial and ministerial levels with fruitful results. The library edited and published the Catalog of Mongolian Books in China, Index to Theses on Mongolian Studies, Ancient Mongolian Books in China, Catalog of Mongolian Tripitaka, Bibliography of European Collection of Ancient Mongolian Books, Research in the Development of Local Literature in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, The Development, Utilization and Digitalized Management of Ethnic Scripts and Literature, and the series of books on global achievements in Mongolian studies.
This series of academic achievements and the construction of the Mongolian digital library have innovated the dissemination and inheritance of Mongolian traditional culture, effectively solved the contradiction between preservation and utilization. They have great significance not only in using, spreading and protecting of Mongolian literature, but also in inheriting and carrying forward the Mongolian culture. Mongolian digital library research and practice have filled the gaps in the development and utilization of national minority literature. It has provided an important digital Mongolian literature information support for the domestic and foreign Mongolian research, and promoted the global Mongolian research and development. Mongolian digital library research and practice is an example of the national literature integration in ethnic areas. It plays a leading role in the study of national literature studies and the construction of national literature digital library.
III. Human-based Management and Services
The library has a reasonably structured team of compound professional personnel, including 78 employees on the staff of public institutions, 40 employees on the staff of non-public institutions, 6 doctors (including 2 Ph.D. candidates ), 24 employees with master's degrees, 37 employees with undergraduate’s degrees, and the rest with associate college degrees. 5 of the employees hold higher professional titles, 17 hold associate higher titles and 48 secondary titles.
The library comprises the Mongolian Studies Department, Information Consulting Department (Scientific and Technological Novelty Inquiry Station of the Ministry of Education), Editorial Department, Department for Circulation of Books between the Two Campuses, Systems Department, the General Affairs Office and the Archives, etc. In face of the trends of informationization and cyberization in recent years, the library has vigorously promoted the management concept of openness and sharing to provide readers services including loaning of books and periodicals, resource retrieval, inquiry for scientific and technological novelty, information and project consulting, inter-library lending and document delivering, remote accessing, users training, pushing services and file querying, etc. Unified loaning and returning between the two campuses and pre-booked borrowing have been made possible. The library is open 7 ×14.5, totaling 101.5 hours weekly.
The RFID-based self-service book circulation management system presently in use makes possible self-service open access to all the books on stock at the library. As a result, the focus of the librarians has been shifted to supervision, reading guidance, network service, consulting and disciplinary service at higher levels. Consequently, the efficiency for the use of library resources and network information resources has been improved, and the management and service quality of the library have been upgraded.
A library is an ocean of knowledge, a treasure house of wisdom and a base for the takeoff of talents. The library of a university is an institution for academic services. A library’s work is an important part of the university’s teaching and scientific research. Adhering to the spirit of "readers first, service first" and altruistic dedication, everyone on the library staff is committed to building a first-rate campus library in China and providing better services to all the faculty members and students of IMU with advanced and scientific management concept, conscientiousness as well as efficient and convenient means of services.