This library is a temple, inside a meditative forest.
Living in New York has its big-city annoyances, like getting elbowed in the back while riding the train, getting splashed with dirty rain water when a cab speeds over a puddle, or finding a nice table at a cafe to dive into a good book — only to have the barista turn on an old Might Mighty Bosstones album to distract you from your moment of zen. When I heard about this small library, on the outskirts of Beijing, it fit my fantasy of a quiet place to sit down with a book and read.
Beijing, China, is more than thirteen times the square-mileage of New York with millions more people. How does one find solitude in a city that size? Wouldn’t it be nice to leave the big city for just a few hours and meditate with a book?
Liyuan library is shaped like a box and is small, around 1,900 square feet. It’s clad in firewood, sourced from the forest it stands in, which filters the natural light that streams into the library. The interior’s cascading floor creates private reading nooks. The steps of the giant staircase do double duty as shelving, and are laid out with seat cushions. Book cases cascade too, and no book looks out of reach.
I read that visitors are encouraged to bring three books to drop off and leave carrying away one. I’d be curious to see what travelers have left. To protect the floors visitors are asked to remove their shoes. My dream would be to have the entire library to myself with a cup of tea, warm socks, and a stack of interesting reads, perhaps about travel.
Most of the information I found about Liyuan library was about its architecture. I’d love to know more about the collection or Beijing library culture in general. If you know of any good resources feel free to comment or contact.