Saturday, October 13, 2007

Beautiful Libraries - Amsterdam and Uxbridge

I'm always visiting libraries either for work or when I'm on holiday, and I do judge a city or town somewhat by their libraries - not only their collections and displays, but also their architecture and location. There's nothing I love more than a beautifully designed and user-friendly space that becomes the true heart of a community. I was recently in Amsterdam and popped into their central library for a few hours as it was raining cats and dogs outside and I could think of nothing I wanted more than to read some international newspapers, check my e-mail and have a cup of coffee, homemade soup and some delicious apple cake in their cafe on the seventh floor (recommended highly by my guide book to the city). This has to be one of the most gorgeous libraries I've ever been in. This is the outside and then the view of the city from the cafe. Wouldn't you want to spend hours here?

The stacks were beautiful as well. The shelves seemed to be made of a thick, white, slightly translucent plastic and they were lighted with white fairy lights so it seemed as if they were glowing. The underside of the escalators located in the middle of the building were also made fo this same material. The shelving end units were cabinets with various artifacts on display, so the whole effect was of being in an art museum or high end department store - yet completely devoted to books. The floor containing DVDs and CDs had very curvy, custom made white shelves that snaked around the floor. And the whole building was drenched with natural light. It was all very slick and modern but inviting at the same time. Definately stop in if you are visiting Amsterdam; it's not far from the Central Train Station and is a great place to have a cheap and hearty meal.

Small towns also have charming libraries. The Deweys were recently doing a presentation in Uxbridge, Ontario and I wish I'd brought my camera. Their library was constructed in 1887 and was originally a school. It has a lovely and elegant war memorial in front of it and inside, murals devoted to L.M. Montgomery and Glenn Gould who had ties to the town. You can see a photo of it here. (Click on the first photo in the left-hand corner).

No comments: