Monday, August 21, 2017

Library buildings

A love of beautiful things on mother earth, from nature to architecture, inspired me to have a look at library buildings.  And what a revelation! Here is some of the results that I came upon searching on Google for library buildings.  The size and volume of some of these libraries are just amazing. 

José Vasconcelos Library, Mexico
Nicknamed the “megalibrary” by the Mexican press, this giant library takes up a whopping 409,000 square feet, making it large enough to dwarf the painted gray whale skeleton displayed inside the main hallway. Outside of the library is an impressive botanical garden that protects the building from the loud city streets, providing a moat for this castle of knowledge. Inside, over 500,000 books are displayed on glass shelves hanging from the five stories of the building. The end result is as striking as it is stunning.
Designed by Alberto Kalach, the "megalibrary" features transparent walls, hive-like bookshelves, and mismatched floors. Visitors can take in a massive whale skeleton covered in graphite rings by artist Gabriel Orozco. Outside, there's a garden boasting lush flowers and greenery.

Images courtesy of CliNKer's and vladimix's Flickr streams.

Delft University of Technology Library, Netherlands

 The Delft University of Technology library is a building of glass and grass. With a massive skylight in the ceiling that becomes a steel cone after escaping the confines of the library, and an eco-friendly grass-covered roof, the library is both stunning and totally modern.  You can literally walk across the library. There are a thousand study spaces for more than three thousand students each day.

Images courtesy of Robert Lochner's and Thomas Guignard's Flickr streams.

Stuttgart City Library

Characterised by its cube shape and clinical white interior, this great crystalline building stands a whopping 9-storeys high over the German city of Stuttgart.
This cavernous white wonder is unobtrusive in design, where the books and visitors provide the colour to an otherwise neutral environment

Flickr: suchosch / Creative Commons

Mohammed bin Rashid Library  DUBAI
The Mohammed bin Rashid Library in Al Jaddaf will hold more than 1.5 million volumes, 1 million audio books and 2 million e-books, making it the world’s largest electronic collection and the biggest library in the Arab world.
Designed in the shape of an open book on a lectern, the seven-storey building will host over 100 cultural and cognitive events every year, a permanent art gallery, and a home for specialised institutions that support development of the Arabic language content
With its huge building, the library will serve as a venue for many cultural and intellectual events as well as art exhibitions. The latest technologies will be used to equip it to be one of the largest electronic libraries in the world. The library will serve as a cultural and scientific movement in the country and a catalyst for reading and scientific research.

Construction work has commenced in September 2016 and be completed by mid-2018.

An illustration of the Mohammed bin Rashid Library.

Admont Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located on the Enns River in the town of Admont, Austria. It is the oldest remaining monastery in Styria and contains the largest monastic library in the world. The abbey is known for its Baroque architecture, art, and manuscripts.
The library collection comprises some 200,000 volumes. The most valuable treasures are the more than 1,400 manuscripts (the earliest from the 8th century) and the 530 incunabula (early printed books before 1500).

Tiny Libraries
And for inspiration, if you feel you must build your own library, how about this?
Little Free Libraries are decorative wooden boxes about the size of a large birdcage mounted on poles, filled with books free for borrowing, open 24/7.  The idea germinated in WISCONSIN 4 years ago.
There’s a website, complete with plans for building a Little Library of your own –

This overview of a few library buildings, their design and the immense volumes of information being stored in them, the concept of storing information in printed books, the preservation and safe keeping of valuable knowledge, made me realise how cold and impersonal it is to use GOOGLE to find information. I can just imagine the joy in exploring these libraries, to smell and touch the books and paper, the experience to see old handwritten books by monks from centuries back!
And there are still libraries being build! I hope the future library buildings will house books in written format for next generations to come and not only be storage facilities for electronic forms of information!

But hey, I am an old soul and love the traditional book that I grew up with. May the next generation of libraries, librarians and users of libraries still know the joy and pleasure of holding a paper printed book in their hands, smell the paper, cuddle up with a book in a sunny spot and enjoy the pleasure of exploring the inside of well-kept libraries.