Fascinating Asian Libraries to Visit Post-Pandemic

When we are traveling overseas, we can’t help but feel excited to explore and discover what a certain country has to offer. For bibliophiles, libraries can provide a leisurely day of going through the vast collection of books and getting lost in the printed word.

However, varying degrees of travel restrictions are still in place. Until such time flying overseas becomes safer and worry-free, here is a list of interesting libraries in the Asia that bookworms would be delighted to include in their itinerary:

Starfield Library, Seoul Korea

Photo from www.herbravesoul.com

Nestled at the center of the famed COEX Mall, Starfield Library opened to the public in May 31, 2017. The two-storey, 2,500 sq. m. space boasts of glass and light. The most distinctive feature is the three towering bookshelves filled with nearly 50,000 books for visitors’ enjoyment. There are also 600 local and foreign magazines to choose from, readily available for browsing.

ADVERTISEMENT

Shinsegae, the South Korean department store franchise, invested 6 billion won to develop and build it. It costs approximately 500 million won to maintain per yer. There are areas where people can work and read. Due to it being an open space and people mainly go there to meet friends and chitchat, the Starfield Library is best for winding down, enjoying a cup of coffee, and taking photos as it has been deemed as one of the most “instagrammable” libraries. Apart from that, the library is also a venue for book signing events, poetry reading, lectures, mini-concerts and more.

It depends where you would be coming from but the easiest way to get there is by taking the metro rail train towards Subway Line 2, Samseong Station, Exits 5 & 6 and this would lead you straight to COEX Mall.

Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest, Osaka Japan

Photo from © Shigeo Ogawa Studio

Renowned Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, designed a children’s book forest in Nakanoshima Park in Osaka, Japan. It has been completed in March 2020 and opened to the public in July of the same year. The library offers books and literary pieces for children and adults. True to its Japanese roots, the interiors are artfully curated, and books are organized by category: genre, age-range and subject.

ADVERTISEMENT

Tadao Ando grew up in Osaka and wanted to donate children’s library to the city as a way of giving back. The library is a three-storey atrium, with floor-to-ceiling wooden bookshelves. A central stairway leads up to the upper floors, with crisscrossing bridges for additional pathways.

Visitors won’t be able to check out any of the books, but they are free to spend as much time reading indoors for as long as the library is open. The outdoors also extend to a park where a stroll would be a great way to see more of the Dojima-gawa River.

Beitou Public Library, Taipei Taiwan

Photo from www.travel.taipei

Beitou Public Library was the first building in Taiwan to receive certification of a “Green Building.” The structure itself allows for natural light to stream in through its huge French windows, has solar panels for roofing to generate energy and its own drainage system to collect rainwater to use for watering plants and flushing toilets. It is designed to resemble a giant wooden boat, to the delight of visitors when they first see it.

The book selection is wide enough to have something for everyone. There is a children section for the young tots and another section where older people can browse through newspapers and magazines. The library also has a monograph collection for students and teachers who want to peruse it. Since Beitou is a town known for hot springs and historic buildings, one could also enjoy “forest bathing,” where you could borrow a book and bathe surrounded by dense forestry.

Library @Orchard, Singapore

Photo from www.tripadvisor.com.ph

After shopping along Orchard Road, Singapore, you might want to stop by Library @Orchard on the third and fourth floors of Orchard Gateway. The library opened in 2014, providing work areas and lounging spaces that are popular with students, whether they go to study there individually or in groups.

The library is split into two areas: The Studio and The Loft. Both sections display a vast collection of titles, in every subject under the sun. The shelves are arranged in fun, curved “alley ways” but are well-lit and organized that all book lovers would happily get lost in, browsing through their books and magazines.

When taking the MRT to go there, you may proceed to the North-South Line, and alight at Somerset station.

Sorsogon State College Library, Sorsogon City Philippines

Photo courtesy of Christian Cardano

The Sorsogon State College Library has been renovated and completed in 2019. The new library was designed by John Olinad Esller, who rendered plans for the library to incorporate an e-library and cafe. The facility has been given a more modern look, much to the awe of the students who are enrolled there.

The two-storey library features a huge skylight that illuminates the entire room and has a capacity of up to 800 people. One can go for additional readings, research on various topics or browse through serials for leisure. Online journals can be accessed as well to give way to an abundance of information.

One can travel to Sorsogon City from Manila by train, bus or car. The fastest and most convenient way, though, is by plane, which would only take 1 hour and 25 minutes.

While the above selection is not an exhaustive list, these libraries could be a source of enjoyment and relaxation for tourists and locals alike. Most public libraries are free and this could be an added bonus to any travel. To anyone who has ever immersed in a great book can attest to its ability to open up our imagination, dreams and ideas. Through books, new worlds await us, even if we never have to move an inch.