Located in the west of Yuehu Lake in Ningbo City, Tianyi Pavilion (http://www.tianyige.com.cn/) is the oldest private library well-preserved in China today. It was first built by Fan Qin, a high-ranking official equivalent to today's national defense minister, during Emperor Jiajing's reign period in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
Fan Qin loved collecting ancient books, and his collection of books reached 70,000. To protect the books, Fan Qin made a strict family rule that all posterity of the family should never discard and take away the books. Many books were lost nevertheless as the years passed by. In 1808, books kept there totaled to 4,049 in more than 53,000 volumes. During the Opium War, British aggressors plundered many of the books and sold them to French missionaries and paper mills. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, a special agency was set up to protect the Tianyi Pavilion and its books. More than 3,000 volumes of missing books were found.