I don’t know if many of you know this, but I have an obsession with public libraries. Maybe obsession is a strong word, but I almost always try to seek out libraries and I am happy and calm whenever I am in a library. Currently I am sitting in the Seattle Public Library, it is beautiful, a modern sort of design with a large bulge in the glass midway up. I am sitting in the bulge so there is glass on light above me and on two sides. On my other two sides there are people from all walks of Seattle life using the free computers and free internet. No one talks, but everyone peacefully coexists.
While traveling I drug Nate to many public libraries. I have included pictures of some. My favorite library we encountered was in Stuttgart Germany. Our host Daniel, knocked this building for being ugly and modern (and for costing way more money than any city should have paid for it), but I loved it. In the center of the ground floor library there was just a large white room with unseeing windows, a square tile on the floor, and a skylight above. Above this room of isolation blossoms a vibrant library a true palace of information. I loved the symbolism that you moved from a space of meditation and internal thought to a place of education and external thought.The roof of the building featured walkways that lent a great view of the city.
The last library I am going to talk about was on the other side of the world, both literally and culturally. In Tibet we encountered a building that was part printing press, part bookstore, and part library. The ways were full of organized cubbies each containing wooden boards that had been carved with buddhist texts. The monks used the carvings to create prints of these ancient words. Nate bought a few pages, even though we can not read them. I still define this place as a library because of the feeling of knowledge worship that emanated from the shelves. Not to mention that distinctly library smell of old paper and binding. Sadly we could not take pictures in here but I included some photos of the outside.
Ok, a few words about one more library, I have too…. from years ago when I was traveling with my mom. The Cambridge University library is a magical place. I have no pictures of it ( that aren’t in boxes) , but just close your eyes and imagine the Hogwarts great hall and you know most of what it looks like.