Where Libraries are the Tourist Attractions

About a decade in the past libraries throughout the world confronted a dilemma. Their very important capabilities — to produce books and entry to info for the public — have been being changed by Amazon, e-books and public Wi-Fi.

To struggle for his or her survival, mentioned Loida Garcia-Febo, president of the American Library Association, libraries tried to find out what different position they may play. “They invented these amazing new initiatives that are finally launching now,” she mentioned. It took them this lengthy to boost cash and construct them.

In the previous few years dozens of latest high-profile libraries have opened near residence and throughout the world. And they definitely don’t resemble the book-depot imaginative and prescient of libraries from the previous.

To appeal to guests from residence and overseas, many libraries have advanced, even quirky facilities. They have rooftop gardens, public parks, verandas, play areas, teen facilities, film theaters, gaming rooms, artwork galleries, eating places and extra. The new library in Aarhus, Denmark, has a large gong that rings each time a mom in a close-by hospital offers delivery.

Ms. Garcia-Febo is aware of of a number of libraries offering free work area for rising numbers of entrepreneurs. These aren’t simply options to espresso outlets, areas for individuals to tug out their laptops and work. The libraries have fancy assembly rooms for them to fulfill with potential purchasers, enterprise librarians who may also help them clear up their monetary challenges, and lessons to show them very important abilities. At no value, it’s a less expensive choice than spending tons of of for a desk at WeWork.

Libraries are supplying the public with different options they could not have at residence. Twenty years in the past that was books. Now it’s costly new expertise like 3D printers, laser cutters and broadcasting studios for podcasts and flicks. Visitors are going to libraries to attempt earlier than they purchase. Other individuals simply wish to play with one thing that won’t ever be capable to afford.

Meeting various wants requires a complicated constructing, and lots of libraries are using the world’s greatest architects to create showstopping designs. The new buildings are remodeling skylines, going viral on social media and attracting vacationers from throughout the world. For many of those libraries the books are overshadowed by different facilities.

Here’s a have a look at a few of the world’s latest and most artistic libraries.

Helsinki, Finland

On Dec. 6, 2018, Finland celebrated its 101st anniversary of independence from Russia. One day earlier than, the Finns acquired an anniversary current: a brand new central library named Oodi.

The library’s facade is made almost entirely of spruce, sourced from Finland. It has steel and glass structures mixed in, creating a soft, inviting look. The Helsinki government allocated 68 million euros to the project as well as a prime spot opposite the Finnish Parliament (the federal government provided 30 million more). A local firm, ALA Architects, won the commission over 543 other competitors.

Only one third of the 185,000-square-foot space is allocated to books (transported by specially designed robots); the rest is community space designed for meeting and doing.

At the “book heaven” on the top floor, visitors sprawl out among potted trees and on specially commissioned wool carpets. An urban workshop on the second floor has sewing machines, scanners and printers as well as laser cutters and soldering stations, with spaces allocated to sewing, making badges, and even playing the drums. There is room for pop-up markets and entrepreneurs can rent out work stations to meet with colleagues or clients. There are pop-up information desks where organizations can inform visitors about their work.

In March, Oodi welcomed its one millionth visitor. “We have tourists from all over the world visiting, but mainly from Europe mostly, China, Japan and America,” said Anna-Maria Soininvaara, the library’s director. “Usually they want to experience the Maker Space and ask where all the books are because the shelves are always half empty because they’re all on loan.”

Dublin, Ireland

Visitors will be able to see the old physics theater where James Joyce set a chapter of his “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” and the original print of “Ulysses,” famously called copy number 1. The bedroom of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins is still intact and will be available for viewing. Private letters from Joyce have been pulled out of storage for display.

The museum will also have a Joyce Research library and a reading room. There will be seats for working in the garden. “We are re-landscaping what we think is the only publicly accessible historic house garden in Dublin,” said Simon O’Connor, the museum’s director. “We take that responsibility seriously.”

He’s also excited about the museum’s radio station that will broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “Academics, musicians, and writers passing through the cities can stop in,” he said. “This is a living, breathing thing.”

The library goes from “fun” to “serious” as visitors ascend the spiral staircase. On lower floors there are two cafes, a teen center, a children’s space and a 320-seat theater. The highest floor is the Great Reading Room, a more traditional library space surrounded by wooden planks. “There are no signs on the walls to ask for silence,” said Ms. Thompson. “But the room is always in a state of hushed silence as people study and read within the wooden oasis.”

Calgary is one of many Canadian cities getting a new super-library, as the locals call them. Ottawa is spending $192.9 million on a library scheduled to open in 2024 that will highlight views of the scenic Ottawa River and an exhibit space for the national archives of Canada. And in February 2020, Edmonton, Alberta, plans to debut its new Milner Library. Among its amenities will be a 65-inch multi-touch table in the lobby for visitors to play games, participate in surveys and make digital art.

Doha, Qatar

Designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the Qatar National Library, which opened in April 2018, is all about symbolism, a physical representation of the country’s reverence for learning.

The entry way is full of stacks housing almost one million books, including 137,000 for children and 35,000 for teens. “The way they are built on an incline, it looks like they are coming out of the floor,” said Dr. Sohair Wastawy, the library’s executive director. “It elevates the books and the knowledge people are looking for.”

The 72-foot-tall ceiling is made entirely of glass, drilling home the message that light is essential to learning. The Heritage Library, composed of 11 rooms full of objects significant to Qatar and the region, is sunk 20 feet into the ground; it looks like an excavation site. “The symbolism is that heritage is the root of the nation, the root of the land,” Dr. Wastawy said.

What the library has in looks it also has in programming. Every month the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra performs for the public for free. This is only one of the 80 to 90 free events the library holds monthly. One of the most popular activities is a knitting group. Women come every Thursday and stay for four hours. There are labs for writing music, broadcast rooms with green screens, and play spaces for children of all ages.

“The public didn’t have that kind of community space, only cafes and shops to meet,” said Ms. Wastaway. “Now the library is the place the entire family can come for the entire day without getting bored.”

Tianjin, China

The Tianjin Binhai Library was built for practical purposes, to serve the Binhai New Area, which was formed in 2009 by the merger of three districts of Tianjin, a port city in northeastern China. It opened in October 2017 and has everything you would expect from a library: reading rooms, learning spaces, book storage and a large archive. But the majority of guests don’t go there to utilize the services. They visit from all over the world to see the fantastical architecture created by the Dutch firm MVRDV and local architects from the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute.

“I think for the first week the library had around 10,000 visitors per day,” said Winy Maas, a founding partner with MVRDV and the architect responsible for the library. “People were lining up in the street to enter!”

The 363,000-square-foot space is painted floor to ceiling in pure white. In the middle of the space is a spherical auditorium nicknamed “the eye.” Around it are undulating floor-to-ceiling shelves that form waves. On the lower levels there are shelves with real books. On the upper levels the shelves contain aluminum plates with paintings of books on them, due in part to fire regulations.) Staircases are incorporated into the bookshelves: It’s a popular place for selfies and Instagram posts.

The space also has two rooftop decks offering views of the surrounding area. More traditional parts of the library are found to the side and below the attention-grabbing lobby.

The Central Library in Austin opened its doors on October 2017 with the Texas belief that bigger is always better. With six floors and 200,000-square-feet of space, it is twice the size of the former Old Faulk Central Library and located less than half a mile away.

The library sits next to Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake, areas of natural beauty. Many amenities take advantage of the location by focusing on the outdoors. Wrap-around-porches serve as reading rooms. The children’s room has a reading porch adjacent to it and a giant chess set just outside.

“The design gives you a sense of peace,” said Ms. Garcia-Febo, the library association president who recently visited the space. “It is very helpful for communities to have these spaces where they can feel peace.”

There is a seed library where users can check out seeds and plant them at home. The library even makes its own solar energy (30 percent of the building’s energy is generated this way) and collects rainwater in a 373,000 gallon cistern. It is used in the restrooms and for landscape irrigation.

One of the even quirkier features of the new library is a “technology petting zoo” on the fifth floor where visitors can play with new gadgets they don’t yet (or might not ever) own. They can draw on tablets, test out Philips Hue smart Wifi-lights, create their own model on a 3D printer, or record a song on a Spire Studio.

Oslo, Norway

Source link Nytimes.com

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