The most beautiful libraries in the Netherlands
In 2016, there were 154 public libraries in the Netherlands, but this number has been declining since the 1980s, mostly because of mobile technology. And while reading books on a mobile device, such as a phone, laptop or e-reader is incredibly convenient, there is nothing like the feel (and smell!) of an actual book in your hands. Well, that’s the opinion of this editor, anyway. Feel the same way? Then be sure to check out the following stunning libraries in the Netherlands:
Handelingenkamer - De Tweede Kamer, The Hague
Image: Arenda Oomen
The proceedings and debates in Dutch parliament are recorded verbatim by official reporters of the Parliamentary Reporting Office in The Hague. These recordings are stored in a beautiful, four-storey library, built at the end of the 19th century.
The architect, C.H. Peeters, was inspired by China, which is reflected in the colour scheme (red, gold and green), the many dragon heads and patterns in the cast-iron staircases and balustrades. Thanks to the leaded glass dome roof, daylight filters down to the floor. This impressive library has room for 30.000 books.
Unfortunately, you can’t visit the Handelingenkamer whenever you want, since it is usually closed for the public. However, there are exceptions. One of these exceptions is Open Monumentendag. The next Open Monumentendag is September 8, 2018, so if you are not busy tomorrow…
TU Delft Library - Delft
This university library in Delft is not just a library, it is the largest technical-scientific library of the Netherlands. It was designed by Mecanoo architects. It’s not hard to miss; simply look for the giant cone in a field of grass. This grass, by the way, makes the building energy efficient, since it has an insulating effect and also provides noise reduction. As for the books? They are displayed in an immense four-storey wall.
The TU Delft Library is open 365 days per year, which means it is also open during national holidays. You do not need to be a student at the university to be able to borrow books here, but you will need a membership!
Rijksmuseum Research Library - Amsterdam
Located in the main building of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, this library is one of the main art libraries in the world. It houses a reading room and a print study room, where you can browse books, periodicals, catalogues of auctions and exhibitions, trade and collection catalogues and annual reports concerning the museum collections.
You can visit the Rijksmuseum Research Library reading room from Monday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. The print study room is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Both rooms are closed on national holidays.
Public Library Eemland - Amersfoort
Located in Amersfoort, Het Eemhuis was designed by Neutelings Riedijk Architecten, an architecture firm based in Rotterdam. It opened in 2014 and houses four different cultural organisations; Public Library Eemland, Archief Eemland, Scholen in de Kunst and Kunsthal KAdE. The library measures over 5500 m2. The “reading room” in the central area consists of eight “terraces”.
Library Eemland is open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm. On Saturday, the library is open from 9am to 5pm and on Sunday, the library is open from 1pm to 5pm.
Boekenberg Spijkenisse - Spijkenisse
Image: G. Lanting
Ever wanted to climb a mountain of books? Well, you can in Spijkenisse. Sort of... De Boekenberg, which translates to the mountain of books, opened in April 2012 and was designed by architect Winy Maas from Rotterdam-based architecture firm MVRDV. It took 10 years of planning, designing and building for this mountain to be finished. But what a sight! A pyramid-like glass structure houses an enormous pile of books inside, just waiting to be perused by you.
You can visit Boekenberg Spijkenisse on Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 10am to 5.30pm, on Wednesday and Thursday from 10am to 8.30pm, on Saturday from 10am to 4pm and every first Sunday of the month (September – April) from 11am to 4pm.
BA Oosterdok - Amsterdam
Situated just east of Amsterdam Central Station, the Amsterdam Public Library is located in an impressive, modern building, spread out over 10 floors. It was designed by architect Jo Coenen, who also designed the KNSM Island and the Central Library of Maastricht.
With over 28.000 m2, OBA Oosterdok is the largest library in the Netherlands. Over 4.000 people a day visit the library, which includes a reading café, a restaurant, seating for over 1.000 people, free Wi-Fi for members, and over 25.000 metres of bookshelves filled with books. That will keep you busy for a while!
OBA Oosterdok is open from Monday to Friday from 8am to 10pm. During the weekends, it is open from 10am to 10pm.
What is your favourite library? Let us know in the comments! Prefer to buy your books? Check out these awesome English bookshops in Amsterdam.