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6 libraries you need to see

Norwegian libraries are considered some of the most beautiful in the world! Check out the spectacular Deichman Bjørvika in Oslo, named as the world's best new public library, and five other stunning libraries.

In Norwegian libraries, you can borrow anything from electric bikes to guitars and hammocks. Because 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.

Deichman 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 doors of the Oslo Public Library (Deichman) in Bjørvika in Oslo opened in 2020, and there is no doubt that this too is a library out of the ordinary. The offers range from restaurant and cinema to digital workshops. In 2021, It earned the The Public Library of the Year award by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) for how it "combines environmental awareness with architectural flair" and "how libraries can function as institutions that bring people together.”

­“The Northern countries are far ahead when it comes to reimagining the use of libraries”, says Knut Skansen, director at the Oslo Public Library, main branch.

Skansen explains how the joy people get from gathering together was 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 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.

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.

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.

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. Deichman Biblo Tøyen, Oslo

At Deichman 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.

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.

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