Glorious libraries


Ah! The glory of libraries. All of those books in one place. So much knowledge, so many stories. It is the dream of readers everywhere to possess a library anywhere near half as extensive as this. Many libraries lack an artistic flair in architecture.

This beautiful building however, so elegant in the afternoon sunshine, is the Vancouver Central Public Library. It has 7 floors of books. There is a First Peoples storyteller and a writer in residence, the staff are mobile, and will meet you on any floor. In the Children’s Library on the bottom floor, there’s a vibrant dragon hanging.

Imagination has taken flight in that external curving section; many movies have been filmed in the glassed in halls. It’s closed to the public, very sadly.

The sculpture at the front of the building also tickles my fancy.


I also have a soft spot for the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. That beautiful building was founded in 1854, with the idea that it would be ‘the people’s university’. How wonderful is the altruism of that sentiment. ┬áThe La Trobe reading room (the one in the photograph below) celebrated her centenary this year.

Melbourne State Library; Melbourne Melbourne State Library; Melbourne

What I love about the State Library is that it has a wonderful collection of old books. It starts with some of the early illustrated books, mostly religious texts, and looks all the way up to pop culture covers and fiction. It also showcases drafts of famous works.

Each of these libraries has embraced more than just the printed word. There are interactive displays, such as games rooms and image galleries, and many activities to bring people into the library. They are attempting to place themselves at the centre of our communities, and I think this progressiveness is the way that libraries will retain their relevance. For the large role that they play in most lives and their availability to the economically or socially disadvantaged, I think it’s so important that we celebrate these gorgeous buildings and excellent organisations.

Which is your favourite library in those that you’ve encountered thus far and why?

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