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Richmond Public Library conducting 'thorough review' of donation procedures

Kwok-Chu Lee gave 46,730 Chinese books, 200 VCDs and various art works to the library, worth $1 ,195,200 million. The Chinese-language books include art books, psychology, rare texts and more. - Bhreandáin Clugston photo
Kwok-Chu Lee gave 46,730 Chinese books, 200 VCDs and various art works to the library, worth $1 ,195,200 million. The Chinese-language books include art books, psychology, rare texts and more.
— image credit: Bhreandáin Clugston photo

The chair of the Richmond library board acknowledged Monday recent media reports critical of the library's handling of a large donation of Chinese language books.

"We are currently conducting a thorough review of our procedures, and are investigating best practices from other libraries and major institutions across Canada," said Pat Watson at a meeting of council. "The library board is always looking to improve our system so that we'll be well-equipped to support future donations that contribute so much to our community."

Kwok-Chu Lee, also known as Master Lam Chun, donated nearly 47,000 Chinese books to the library earlier this year. The library valued the collection at $1.2 million and issued the donor tax receipts of an equivalent value.

In examining the collection for the library, Victoria book dealer Bjarne Tokerud described the books as a "national treasure."

In recent columns this fall, Vancouver Sun columnist David Baines suggested the library exercised "a remarkable lack of rigour" in awarding Lee with tax receipts based on "flimsy" appraisals.

Meanwhile integration of the collection into the library system—which the city is spending $100,000 on this year—has begun.

Chief librarian Greg Buss said 5,000 of the books are now on library shelves, and the library has recorded 4,000 circulations of the materials since May.

Said Buss: "These are books that the public really want and they're going to be taking out.

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