Copenhagen’s Royal Library, the Black Diamond

“You have to go to the Royal Library when you next go back to Copenhagen, its beautiful,” she said, I looked at her and made a mental note… she was beautiful…Women who read are attractive, what can I say 😉

But the opportunity did turn up, and a second trip to Copenhagen presented itself. This time around, the library was on the itinerary.

Reading paper books may be increasingly going out of fashion being replaced by ebooks, but nothing beats the wonder of a trip to the library, the romance of digging through shelves to find books, or occasionally stumbling on a gem or a book because you couldn’t find the one you wanted to read. Libraries are treasure troves of knowledge, they are great places to study and hotspots of culture, communciation and connection.

You can see how seriously a city takes its remit of sharing arts, culture and knowledge with the public when you make a trip to the central library of the city – Stockholm’s library was a grand looking functionalist design, the library in St Gallen was classically grand, Houston’s library was modern and wonderfully artistic, Singapore’s was likewise modern and choke full with exhibitions.

Copenhagen’s was a journey from traditionally grand to creatively modern, literally.

The Royal Danish Library sits at the centre of Copenhagen city, situated on a small islet and overlooking the Copenhagen Harbour. It is a sea of knowledge surrounded by merriment (Tivoli to its southwest) and money (Nyhavn to its northeast). The library was founded in 1648 and opened to the public only in 1793. With a catalogue of 35.4 million items the Royal Library (which also includes the library in the city of Aarhus) is the largest library in all the Nordics. It holds nearly all known Danish literary works dating back to 1482.

It also includes 2000 books by and about Carl Linneaus, the manuscripts of Hans Christian Anderson as well as manuscripts of the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.

But if you approach the library from the waterfront, you wouldn’t get the sense that it was built in 1648. What greets you is a modern black building with not hint of the traditional grandness. That modern black building is Copenhagen’s Black Diamond an extension of the Royal Library.

According to Wikipedia, “apart from its function as a library, the building houses a number of other public facilities and activities, most of which are located around the central, toplit atrium which cuts into the building with a huge glazed front facing the harbour. The facilities include a 600-seat auditorium, the Queen’s Hall, used for concerts—mainly chamber music and jazz—literary events, theatrical performances and conferences. There are also exhibition spaces, a bookshop, a restaurant, a cafĂ© and a roof terrace. Two museums are based in the Black Diamond, the National Museum of Photography and a small museum dedicated to cartoon art.”

For the regular tourist though, it is the view from the top of the atrium, that is the piece de resistance of the Black Diamond – with its glazed glass atrium letting in the sunlight, bound on both sides by reading and research areas, the view is breathtaking especially on a good and sunny day (come in Summer) in the Nordics.

It is really beautiful. The library I mean.

Although the patrons too, were… 😉


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