An all too common time-killing conversation starter I hear around friends and acquaintances recently is:
‘When was the last time you went to a library?’
Common answers include ‘ages ago’, ‘when I was, like, four’, and ‘never.’
This is fair enough. Even my nerdiest of literary aficionado friends barely step foot into these ancient relics of the past. However, when we peer into the deep denizens of history, we find that some of the greatest civilisations worshipped their libraries as the centre of their cultures. Today, we look to the internet for our knowledge. So, how can libraries compete? These five modern libraries may be the future of storing our greatest physical achievements.
Berlin – Philological Library
Located on campus at Freie Universität Berlin, the initial exterior design idea was supposed to replicate a human brain. The building was completed by architect Norman Foster opened in 2005 and includes a number of smaller libraries that house various literary study texts.
Tianjin – Binhai Library
Part of the Binhai Cultural Centre in Tianjin, China, this architectural wonder has been nicknamed ‘The Eye’ due to the large orb-like feature that dominates its core. More than just a pretty interior, the Binhai library has the capacity to hold a total of 1.2 million books. The library was designed by Dutch architect firm MVRDV, with the building officially opening in October of last year.
Qatar – National Library
Qatar’s National Library is a not-for-profit for the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. The plans for this library include public access as well as a university-level research facility that hopes to drive the Middle-East into the future of technology.
Calgary – Central Library
Arguably one of Canada’s more contemporary cities, Calgary is now home to one of the most modern masterpieces of literary architecture. This beauty was only opened two weeks ago so the rich smell of learning and literature is still fresh. Local Canadian firm DIALOG and Norwegian Snohetta joined forces to create Calgary’s Central Library.
Chicago – The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library
Although the Americans have created many excellent modern libraries in recent decades, the University of Chicago’s latest edition is one for the ages. Named after wealthy university alumni, the main purpose of the building is to house over 3 million tomes of learning for U Chicago’s massive student body. However, it is the building’s famed dome, designed by Chicago local Helmut Jahn, that steals the show.