Tag Archives: Travel

Wanderlist #3 Liyuan Library


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.

A photo posted by Brian (@mrbrian88) on

A photo posted by Helen (@herenguh) on

A place for quiet reflection in the heart of the mountain #LiYuanLibrary #????

A photo posted by Helen (@herenguh) on

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Wanderlist #2: Cinémathèque de Tanger

Wanderlist #2 CdT

Years ago, I clipped an article about Cinémathèque de Tanger in Morocco and sent it to a film archivist friend and pen pal, Taz. Many months later, Taz took a trip to Tangiers and, to my surprise, my next care package from her included a pin from the Cinémathèque! She had been able to go to the film center and get a behind-the-scenes tour in which she saw old movie posters and heard about the types of acquisitions the center hoped to grow with. Her tip: “We were lucky to get in on the fly, but I’m sure they’d be able to make it even more special with advanced notice.”

 Cinematheque Tanger

Cinémathèque de Tanger is exemplary both as a focal point for discussing, viewing, and sharing film treasures and as an archive (films from Gabriel Veyre, Ahmed Bouanani, Hicham Falah, Mohamed Chrif Tribak, and many more). Cinémathèque de Tanger has been a pioneer in offering screenings for films rarely seen in Morocco and preserving and promoting North African and Arabian cinema. They have set the groundwork for other film organizations to work with Moroccan authorities, censors, and film vendors and have built collaborations with cultural institutions around the world.

Cinémathèque de Tanger

The Cinémathèque is housed in a beautiful, old movie theater that is a natural gathering point and welcomes people to the archive. If you happen to be in Morocco, stop by the cinema and visit their cafe, which co-founder and director Yto Barrada says has taken on it’s own local importance, “Something we didn’t anticipate is the way our café has been taken over by the local teenagers and young adults who seem to spend all of their free time there flirting, playing the guitar, singing, using the free Internet, nursing a Coca Cola, hitting on our interns and very occasionally going to see a movie.”

Images from Pete, Cinémathèque de Tanger, and Frieze.

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Wanderlist #1: Pentagram Archives

Wanderlist #1Often, I’ll sit at work and dream of traveling to libraries and archives around the world. A savvy traveler would have much to gain by adding libraries and repositories to their itinerary. This series will introduce you to great collections, hopefully including more than a few hidden gems. As my dear archivist friend Taz said, Wanderlist will be the Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations of library travel. No book unturned, no artifact undusted… let’s wander!

Pentagram Archives: London

Pentagram London Archive

Whether you are a budding designer or aesthetic zealot, the Pentagram archives in London might be your dream destination. The renowned design firm Pentagram was founded in 1972 in the UK. The collection includes four decades of work in brand identity, architecture, interiors, and products for some of the most prestigious organizations in the world and the archives likely adhere to the same high standards. If I could be hanging out there as I type this, I would.

If you’re not familiar with Pentagram’s design work, I’d like to point out one project which involved the archives of the New York Times. In addition to this impressive building facade, Pentagram created a program of environmental graphics for The Times’ 42nd Street building near Times Square. (Times Square is so named because The New York Times resided there in days of yore.) Pentagram created 800 unique signs for the interior spaces. Designers culled the archives of The Times for imagery that appropriately fits the purpose of each room or office. The images remind staff and visitors of the historic value of the newspaper. This project is a great example of using signage and archives to cultivate a positive work environment, plus it’s just sort of fun.

NY Times Team Room

NY Times Copy Room

Pentagram’s 40 years in 3 minutes chronicles the history of the consultancy and was made by intertwining images from the London and New York Pentagram archives.

Photos borrowed from Ben and Pentagram.

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