Eye-catching library hopes to draw readers back to books

Xinhua
"China's most beautiful library," "The Binhai Eye," and "The Road to the Mountain of Books," are just some of the nicknames the library has received on social media platforms.
Xinhua
Xinhua

People visit the Tianjin Binhai Library on December 10.

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of Library." -- Jorge Luis Borges

As electronic reading devices have gained popularity in recent years, the library, the traditional place for reading, has been gradually fading out of people's lives. However, a recently-opened library in north China's Tianjin Municipality has received a lot of attention from the public.

"China's most beautiful library," "The Binhai Eye," and "The Road to the Mountain of Books," are just some of the nicknames the library has received on social media platforms. Opened less than four months ago, its stunning design has made it a hot topic online and attracted many visitors looking for the perfect selfie.

The Tianjin Binhai Library, located in the city's Binhai New Area, looks like an eye when viewed through the building's glazed walls.

The library has an oval-shaped atrium with a spherical, mirrored auditorium featuring terraced shelves. The shelves wind up and around the atrium and continue around the building to the ceiling.

The library has a designed capacity to store 1.35 million books, however, it currently only holds around 200,000. The shelves are printed with digital book images and the room is designed primarily for reading and socialization, with most of the books housed in separate rooms.

The library was jointly designed by Dutch firm MRVDV in collaboration with Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI), and opened to the public on October 1.

On peak days the library attracts nearly 20,000 visitors. "Far exceeding our expectations," said Liu Xiufeng, deputy director of the library.

Tian Yin, an architect from the TUPDI said the design of the library combines modern western style with Chinese cultural elements.

"Visitors may immediately think of the Chinese poem 'diligence is the path up the mountain of knowledge' when they enter the building, which I think is the success of the design," Tian said.

The library had become popular due to its design, however, Liu said he hopes people can focus more on the library's "inner beauty" - the books it contains.

"I have worked in libraries for 30 years, and seeing a library become so popular makes me feel very proud," Liu said, "However, I've noticed that many people just come here to take a few photos for their social media accounts and very few of them come to read books."

"I hope through our efforts, we can make reading printed books cool again," Liu said.

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