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The library. For me it was where I spent a good part of my childhood, browsing, reading, discovering. Like with many others the fascination has stuck with me, and when travelling I always look up local libraries to get a taste of what everyday life would be like if I lived there. What books are in the shelves, what kind of carpet on the floors, plants. How are the reading spaces arranged, the architecture, the colours. How do people use it.

At the moment I’m living in Beijing and yesterday I had time to revisit Beida (北京大学Beijing University) and its enormous and spectacular library.

It’s grey, intertwining stairways and buildings combine contemporary aesthetic simplicity with traditional Chinese roof tiles. I won’t go as far as calling it beautiful, but the structure does posses a certain lightness and organic feeling which is curious and uplifting for such a huge concrete construction.

Compared to the atmosphere created by long haired lazy cats under the shading ginkgo trees, and students sitting reading in the walk ways, the cold, tiled inside of the library is a little disappointing. However, it’s very popular among the students, who all live in dorms on campus and rely on the quieter space of the library for reading and studying.