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BEAUTIFUL LIBRARIES THAT REFLECT THE VALUE OF BOOKS

Monday, 01 February 2016 | By Gerry Mulvaney

 

By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

In the centre of the city in which I live, Nottingham in the UK, there is a rather elegant Georgian portico incongruously sandwiched between a shop selling newspapers and a clothes shop. There is no clue to what’s behind the door, but there is a small sign above it showing it to be Bromley House, built in 1752.

Bromley House Library portico and books inside

Nottingham’s elegant Bromley House Library – the portico and a look inside

Step inside the door however and there is a clue – Bromley House Library established as a subscription library in 1816 and still going strong two hundred years later. In this three floored Georgian townhouse, originally built for a prominent local banker, some 40,000 books are stored dating from the sixteenth century right up until the modern day covering a range of eclectic subjects.

The books are housed in a series of reading rooms on each floor used by the members of the library, who for a modest annual membership fee have the run of the place. The rooms are much the same today as they would have been in 1816 with the original architectural features, paintings and floor coverings providing a haven of quiet to sit down with a book in the centre of the hustle and bustle of the city.

It’s not the only beautiful place that books are housed. Shortly after my visit to Bromley House I came across a series of photographs by Cologne based German Photographer Christoph Seelbach, which features a range of some of the most stunning libraries around Europe. Entitled “Bibliotheken”, Seelbach has captured the essence of libraries from Austria, Germany, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

My favourites are the Abbey library in Admont in Austria and the Vilnius University library in Lithuania. Both remind me of Bromley house on a much larger scale but the more modern Leipzig University library and the City library in Malmo Sweden are also beautiful repositories for books. There is something about wonderful architecture and design, housing bookcases and books which seems to be a natural combination.

Inside view of Abbey Library in Austria and City Library in Sweden

The Abbey Library in Admont, Austria and the City Library in Malmo, Sweden

The Splendour of Libraries Signifies Paper Books are Here to Stay

There can’t be many examples of the output from printing presses that are treated with such reverence and preserved in such beautiful surroundings. I mean most newspapers are consigned to the recycling within twenty four hours and most of the printed media that drops through my post box finds itself keeping the newspapers company. Packaging follows on a slightly longer timescale, after being separated into plastic or board, but books are not something that you throw away, and in the right surroundings can be a joy to behold.

I guess it must be something to do with the role that books play in our education and upbringing that makes us so value them. If you wanted a sign that books are a long way from being replaced by electronic media then a visit to one of these wonderful places illustrated by Seelbach would be well worthwhile. And if you find yourself in Nottingham, make a special point of seeking out Bromley House; you will be as entranced as me by your visit.


Sources
Main page images:
- http://www.bromleyhouse.org/
- http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/christoph-steelbach-bibliotheke

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