Sally and Edith in Europe

LIANZA Travelling Scholarship

1 Comment

Lelystad – Netherlands

Right out of left field I am throwing in a post about a library in the Netherlands.  I have assiduously programmed the posts to go in strict chronological order…perhaps this is a librarian thing, anyway, in trying to work out where and when (a very complex puzzle as it happens), I revisited a library that has made my heart start racing so I am just throwing my self imposed convention to the wind and getting it out there.

Lelystad has been described as the first ‘ European department store of knowledge’ using commercial retail elements to bring modern, accessible library services to the community.  Libraries are big in the Netherlands and are used more than any other public amenity so I am guessing this gem is a winner.

The following is a direct quote from the Library Building website.

The public library in Lelystad is part of the network of Flevomeer libraries in the youngest province of the Netherlands…Since 2005, many experts have been working on a new concept for the library: inviting, challenging, inspiring new thoughts and ideas, but also ready to provide answers.

The three zones: Past, Present and Future are a response to the new concept. The Past, or first part of the library, encompassing mostly books (the Book boulevard), gives answers to questions. The Present, the middle sphere, has many presentations and displays that present the current issues to visitors, who are surprised and inspired by finding the coffee bar, exhibitions, new titles, and staff selected information. The third part is the Future. Situated deeper in the library, it consists of work and study places, bringing new ideas through the environment but also to the readers themselves.

The library as a ‘storehouse of knowledge’ applies retail techniques: departments have their own look and feel. Window dummies wearing T-shirts with adjustable texts are frequently used. At strategic points, images and communications appropriate for the atmosphere are used as signage.

I love the notion of past, present and future and how it has been interpreted.  So simple.  I wonder sometimes if we are trying to be too clever in our words and ideas.  However, this seemingly simple interpretation of a simple statement might have taken months or years of distillation.  I guess I can find that out.

Without wanting to give too much away, and there is obviously no reason why you can’t go and check these pictures out for yourself, here are a few little pics that might make your heart race too.


Doesn’t it look exciting?  3,700sqm of in your face future, past and present.

This is my list of must sees

  • specially developed aluminium shelving system, with built-in lighting
  • airport-like book display trolley for new titles
  • real self-service everywhere and watch the staff  moving and working amidst the visitors
  • digital signage and shopping baskets
  • the furniture….now 3 years old, will it still look this stunning?  I will try to resist my urge to flip the chairs over to see who the manufacturer is…something I do with regular abandon along with reaching down and touching carpet.