I’m sure anyone reading this who has moved abroad to study/work or taken time out to travel has received the typical gift – a pocket guide! I was no exception. On my flight to Stockholm I cracked open these books to pass the time. I marked museums with my pencil and made a crease on the interesting pages. Making it obvious where I should turn if I needed information quickly. Most of all seeing what I would get up to during my time as a tourist before the real work started.
During the final stages of my flight I was still lazily looking through the guide. Suddenly an image grabbed my attention. Spanning across two pages was a landscape shot of Stockholm’s Public Library; rows and rows of books were contrasted against the minimalist design of the roof. It soon became top of my list of places to visit when I got to the city. Its architect Erik Gunnar Asplund designed the building in 1928 and it was his last to use Nordic Classicism. My guide book described it as having a “processional stairway, which leads up into the magnificent rotunda, in which you are surrounded by books on seemingly endless shelves.” I had to see if the photo did it justice.
Being the typical English student I have a great love for books. It’s no surprise that this building has become one of my favourite places in Stockholm. When I walked into the main section I could only stand in awe at the beauty of the place. I slowly turned around to try and take in everything that was in front of me. I found that the round design truly makes it unique and distorts your perception of size and space. Next I made my way up to the top row and looked at the books that rested on the shelves. Despite the fact that they were practically all in Swedish I still found it beautiful. It is here where I tried to be artistic and take this photo with my handy guide book!
After doing my duty as a tourist I started to explore the other halls of the library. It is here I found a space at one of the desks and sat down to do some reading of my own. The Stockholm Public Library has a unique way of letting its guests know when it is closing time. If you start to hear a banging sound grow louder and louder there is no need to be alarmed. This is the library’s courteous way of letting you know it’s time to pack up your books. When I was there I witnessed a little old man walking around from room to room banging a steel gong, which amused me. I packed up my books and had one last look at Asplund’s work before leaving.
I recommend taking an hour out of your busy Stockholm schedule to check this amazing building. I can guarantee it won’t be like your own public library!
Location: Odengatan 63, T 5083 1100
Transport: Stadsbiblioteket Bus Stop // Rådmansgatan Metro Station.