The rise of the Internet and digital books have caused many to forecast the downfall of the traditional library.
Instead, libraries are having a renaissance.
Gone are the musty rooms with wood panelling and in are open spaces flooded with natural light and bright colours.
Many people, when asked about libraries, imagine old buildings with dimmed light and endless rows of heavy wooden bookshelves.
Libraries are our heritage. They contain all knowledge human kind has acquired. They have to be like that… or maybe not.
Libraries are the avant-garde of civilization. They have to evolve, and look into the future, not only the past.
Modern libraries (and the futuristic building is not a must to make a library modern) are shaping the way we learn things and enjoy books in the digital age. They offer access to books in every possible form and format.
The purpose of this post is to encourage you to visit the library near you. You won’t probably have a chance to go to Singapore and visit Bishan Public Library. On the other side, that library on your street will also welcome you – with a magic of books and the charm of the librarian.
Some of the libraries on the list are obvious, naming only Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library or Yale University Beinecke Rare Book Library. However, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time to dig fantastic libraries in other countries, as well.
As you will see, libraries around the world are heading into the future, creating for their patrons a more dynamic, multi-level environment for learning and pleasure.
1. Library of the Vienna University of Economics, Austria
The Library and Learning Centre of the Vienna University of Economics and Business was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. It rises as a polygonal block from the heart of the new university campus.
The main part of the building houses the service area, the learning centre and the economics library. The library management quarters and student services are located in the smaller block.
The library holds a collection of over 600,000 print books, and almost 100,000 ebooks. It ranks among the most extensive libraries of its kind in the German-speaking world.
2. Bishan Public Library, Singapore
The Bishan Public Library was opened in September 2006. Designed by LOOK Architects, it’s a metaphor of a tree house. Situated in Singapore, the library is serving the needs of nearby schools and inhabitants of the Bishan area.
The library offers over 250,000 titles spread over four floors and a basement. The windows that protrude out of the building are reading nooks for readers who want to read quietly or use their laptops there.
3. Cooroy Library, Australia
This 1,600 square meter building located in Cooroy, Queensland, Australia, houses the town’s public library.
Designed by Brewster Hjorth Architects it is a part of a cultural plan for Cooroy, linking the existing art gallery, main city street, recreational park, and the upgraded rural industry areas.
The library includes a technology center, with digital training rooms, community rooms, community lounge, reading areas and café.
4. Warsaw University Library, Poland
Designed by Marek Budzyński and Zbigniew Badowski, the library opened in December 1999. Guests and book-lovers have direct access to the main part of the library’s bounty, which can be reached through the sides of the building – meaning that students occupying the central areas are not disturbed by visitors.
The distinct element of the building is a botanical garden, located on the roof. With an area of one hectare, it’s one of the largest roof gardens in Europe.
5. University of Aberdeen New Library, Scotland
Designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, and opened for the public in September 2012, the new library of the Aberdeen University houses more than 250,000 books and manuscripts.
This 15,500 square meter facility accommodates 14,000 students with 1,200 reading spaces, archives, historical collections and a room for rare books. It is designed to provide for students a 21st-century learning and research experience.
Designed by a Korean architect Eun Young Yi, Stadtbibliothek in Stuttgart opened in October 2011.
The heart and core of the library follows the design of the ancient pantheon. The gallery hall is a five-story space, in the form of a square and surrounded by shelves of books.
The word “library” is displayed in four languages (German, English, Arabic, and Korean) on the outside walls.