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Inside Vennesla library, 1 av 6 libraries you need to visit in Norway
Vennesla library.
Photo: Hufton+Crow
Inside Vennesla library, 1 av 6 libraries you need to visit in Norway
Vennesla library.
Photo: Hufton+Crow
6 libraries you need to see

In Norwegian libraries, you can borrow anything from electric bikes to guitars and hammocks. And did you know that our libraries with their outstanding architecture are considered some of the most beautiful in the world?

Nowadays, a library is so much more than just the books on its shelves. It can be a source for groundbreaking architecture, a social hub, and a venue buzzing with heated discussions and intriguing talks. It can even be a place you go to cook your dinner, play the guitar, or mend various broken household items. More and more, we see how libraries extend their reach over and beyond their traditional use.

Biblo Tøyen in Oslo is the first-ever library in Norway where there are no adults allowed. Tromsø has transformed an old cinema into a cultural arena with a heartbeat of its own. In contrast, the modern architecture of Vennesla Library and Culture House has gained worldwide fame.

The brand new doors of the Oslo Public Library (Deichman) in Bjørkvika in Oslo will open in 2020, and there is no doubt that this too will make the list of exceptional libraries. The offers range from restaurant and cinema to digital workshops.

Deichman Bjørvika, Oslo
Deichman Bjørvika, Oslo.
Photo: Atelier Oslo Lund Hagem

­“The Northern countries are far ahead when it comes to reimagining the use of libraries. We’ve had close collaborations with big, exciting libraries such as Oodi in Helsinki and Dokk1 in Århus in order to plan our new building”, says Knut Skansen, director at the Oslo Public Library, main branch. Skansen explains how the joy people get from gathering together is the main reason to expand the library.

“The building is intended to be a free common area to house conversations, discussions, sharing, learning, reading, and so much more”, he says.

Through a self-service app, you will be guided through the five floors of the new library in Bjørvika, and the top floor is nothing short of perfection when all you want is to kick back with a good book and a picturesque view of the capital. You’ll be able to see Langkaia, Oslo Opera House, and a huge part of the Oslofjord.

“The new library is meant to give you the sensation of being in a large and homelike living room. A room you will find yourself in between being at home and work or school,” says Skansen.

Below the photo gallery, you can read about five other unique libraries.

Six facts about Norwegian libraries

In a survey made by Nordstat in 2018, 54 per cent answered that they had visited a public library within the past year, which is more than ever before.

In 2018, the Deichman main branch and its connected branches in Oslo put on 5,500 events for the public.

Jo Nesbø is the author whose books are checked out most often from Norwegian libraries.

In Norway, library busses and boats provide a selection of books to bookworms who live far from a public library.

Norway’s first age and dementia-friendly library, Deichman Oppsal in Oslo, opened in 2018.

A law from 1985 states that all counties in Norway must have a public library. The purpose of the library is to enhance knowledge, education, and other cultural work.

Source: The Great Norwegian Encyclopedia

  1. 1. Stormen library, Bodø

    Thanks to its grand glass façade and the view of the harbour, entering Stormen in Bodø feels like walking into a literary cathedral. The building is signed by DRDH Architects (England), and both the library and its matching concert hall have helped them win a number of prizes. The Norwegian Library Association awarded Stormen “Library of the year 2018”, and during that same year, the library hosted more than 650 different events and activities, as well as 470,000 visitors.

    Stormen bibliotek, Bodø
    Stormen bibliotek, Bodø.
    Photo: Ernst Furuhatt

  2. 2. Tromsø Library and City Archives

    Both locals and visitors are drawn to the library and city archives, a lively literary centre in the middle of Tromsø. The uniquely constructed ceiling dates back to the days when the building was home to Fokus Cinema, which opened in 1973. The new library opened in 2005.

    The library stands out because of its large number of exciting projects and activities. Considering how some people tend to be too hot or too cold, the library has set different temperatures on different floors to make sure all visitors can enjoy their reading.

    Tromsø bibliotek og byarkiv
    Tromsø bibliotek og byarkiv.
    Photo: Foap / Visitnorway.com

  3. 3. Vennesla Library and Culture Hall

    One of our most highly acclaimed libraries is located in Vennesla. Ever since it opened back in 2011, it has been an important arena for concerts, theatre, and film screenings. The peculiar architecture of Vennesla Library and Cultural Hall is the result of the drawings by Helen & Hard AS who have won several prizes because of it. The library has been titled the fourth most stunning library in the world by The Huffington Post, and also been described as one of the world’s top 10 most magnificent libraries, together with Stormen in Bodø, by the tech magazine Wired.

  4. 4. Biblo Tøyen, Oslo

    At Biblo Tøyen, the adults have to wait outside while the kids and young adults – aged 10 to 15 – get to bask in the wide collection of books and activities. The library opened in 2016 and contains all sorts of facilities, from a study room and a computer lab for programming, to a stage and a lego wall. Film screenings, cooking classes, coding clubs, author visits, and various workshops are just some of the countless activities the kids get to enjoy here.

    Biblo Tøyen, Oslo
    Biblo Tøyen, Oslo.
    Photo: Marco Heyda

  5. 5. Future Library, Oslo

    The Future Library is an art project by the Scottish artist Katie Paterson on commission from Bjørvika Utvikling. The objective is to collect one original text by a new author every year between 2014 and 2114. The texts will be sealed away in a specially made room in the new public library in Bjørvika, and will first be made available in 2114. 1,000 trees have been planted in the Nordmarka forest in Oslo to provide printing paper for the texts.

    So far, famous authors such as Margret Atwood, David Mitchell, and Sjón have contributed to the project.

    Read more about the Future Library.

Six facts about Norwegian libraries

In a survey made by Nordstat in 2018, 54 per cent answered that they had visited a public library within the past year, which is more than ever before.

In 2018, the Deichman main branch and its connected branches in Oslo put on 5,500 events for the public.

Jo Nesbø is the author whose books are checked out most often from Norwegian libraries.

In Norway, library busses and boats provide a selection of books to bookworms who live far from a public library.

Norway’s first age and dementia-friendly library, Deichman Oppsal in Oslo, opened in 2018.

A law from 1985 states that all counties in Norway must have a public library. The purpose of the library is to enhance knowledge, education, and other cultural work.

Source: The Great Norwegian Encyclopedia

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