Wed, Jun 03, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Guansi bookstore boosts township

By Liao Hsueh-ju  /  Staff reporter

Books line the shelves of No. 69 Organic Bookstore on Shihdianzih Old Street in Hsinchu County’s Guansi Township on Friday last week.

Photo: Liao Hsueh-ju, Taipei Times

Shihdianzih Old Street (石店子老街, also known as Jhongjheng Road) in Hsinchu County’s Guansi Township (關西) might not be known to many, but the community is gaining wider exposure thanks to the opening of a second-hand bookstore, which draws scores of local and overseas visitors to the area every day to attend forums, take music classes and read.

Shihdianzih No. 69 Organic Bookstore started out as a shop for parents and children to enjoy reading together, but went on to become a venue for a variety of activities, including forums, art exhibitions, bazaars for handmade items and musical performances.

The diversity of events at the store gradually made it the town’s cultural and creative hub, generating a huge following.

Bookstore owner Lu Wen-chun (盧文鈞) said that he once worked for a private consultancy firm and started his current job almost by accident.

“I was assigned to a project to help the Hsinchu County Government establish a commercial district featuring cultural and creative shops in Guansi,” Lu said. “While executing the project, I grew very fond of the people and scenery of the town. It motivated me to lease a store, which I transformed into this establishment.”

He said that Jhongjheng Road, despite being the nation’s shortest — measuring about 200m — has more than 20 historic buildings dating to more than a century ago.

The road used to be the township’s busiest, thanks to its proximity to Guansi Elementary School, Lu said.

The old houses along the road are characterized by a variety of building materials, including packed earth, cement and brownstone, coupled with wooden attics, shingled roofs and arched corridors, he said.

Lu said that the bookstore became a venue for musical performances because a volunteer named Chiu Shu-chin (邱淑琴) taught music to children who came to his shop to do their homework.

Over time, the children formed a Hakka band, which performs regularly in the store, Lu said.

The bookstore has about 3,000 books and holds forums on children’s literature on the third weekend of every month, he said.

Art exhibitions are held quarterly and there are special events to celebrate holidays, during which people are encouraged to bring old photographs of Guansi and apply them to do-it-yourself craft items, such as mobile phone bags and pen bags, Lu said.

He said several well-known Taiwanese handicraft artists present demonstrations at the store, while foreigners book time to visit its attic to experience traditional Hakka lifestyle.

Lu, a member of the Guansi Township Arts Development Association, said that the group plans to transform Guangsi into an “arts village” within 10 years.

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