Around the world in 11 astonishing kids’ libraries

Children’s libraries are especially magical, inspiring places. They are gateways to new adventures and understanding. (In fact, the Scottish Government are heroically trialling a project to give automatic library membership to children from birth!)

Whilst books and librarians are the beating heart of any vibrant library, great architecture can energise spaces which some might think are out of date. And so, for your delight and delectation we bring you some of Lost My Name’s favourite children’s libraries from around the world: Happy browsing!

1. The Library of Muyinga in Burundi

[Images: BC Architects]

The Library of Muyinga in Burundi may be built largely out of earth and clay, but that doesn’t stop it feeling like a forward-looking, exciting place to read and hangout. The children’s space includes a mezzanine rope hammock where kids can dream away as they read.

2. The Tree House Library in Singapore

[Images: National Library Board]

Continuing the theme of surprising building materials, the Tree House Library in Singapore is partially made out of 300 recycled plastic bottles donated by the public! Built with environmental sustainability very much in mind, the stock also reflect the library’s commitment to green issues, with over a third of its stock addressing issues such as the environment, recycling, and climate change.

3. Poplar Library in Beijing

[Images: Sako Architects]

Poplar Library in Beijing is actually a children’s bookshop rather than a library, but we can’t resist including it given how packed it is with inviting places to read and explore. The architects wanted this space to showcase illustrated books by letting their beautiful front covers and colours have centre-stage. There’s deliberately no separation of spaces dedicated to reading and playing, and instead kids are encouraged to explore slopes and slides, stairs, windows and holes to find a favourite book nook of their own.

4. Biblioteket, Denmark

[Image: Arcspace]

Strong colours and climbable bookcases also feature in the children’s library to be found inside North-West Copenhagen's Biblioteket (literally: The Library) but if sliding is more your (kids’) thing, how about The Pinch, a small village library in China’s Yunnan Province, where the roof doubles up as a gigantic slide?

5. The Pinch, China

[Images: John Lin and Olivier Ottevar via Dezeen]

This wooden library was built following an earthquake which devastated the village in 2012. That it now doubles as a playful space seems entirely appropriate for a building that in many ways symbolises hope and looking to the future.

6. Monterrey Children’s Library, Mexico

In contrast to the deceptive simplicity of The Pinch, Mexico’s Monterrey children’s library looks like something you might find on a spaceship, packed with asymmetry, edgy colours and unusual lighting.

[Image: Anagrama]

The interior design of this library is doubly striking as it is located inside an historic listed building. The bookshelves built into the floor cleverly create an almost rocky landscape reflecting the mountainous setting of Monterrey.

7-10. Camarillo Public Library, Central Library, Cerritos Millennium Library, and Brentwood Library, USA

First impressions can have a big impact and it seems that US libraries really know a thing or two about making statement entrances to their kids’ libraries. Which one of these would entice you in?

[Clockwise from top left: Camarillo Public Library, California (photo: Gbucknor), Central Library, Kansas (photo: Kristina Light - KC Parent), Cerritos Millennium Library, California (photo: daretothink), Brentwood Library, Tennessee (photo: Gbucknor on Wikipedia)]

11. Highfield Community School, UK

Highfield Community School in Gateshead has perhaps the coolest looking school library in the UK. Swap your bus tickets for books and hop aboard!

[Photos: @davidgatward]

Finally, whilst not dedicated purely to kids, La Bibliambule - a pop-up mobile library in France - is surely ideal for anyone young-at-heart.

This electric trike with seven hammocks (the result of a crowd-funding campaign) aims to promote access to books for all, getting books out of fusty buildings and into the hands of those who might not normally enjoy reading.

[Images: Les Z’Ambules]

If you know of other amazing children’s libraries around the world - perhaps even your local library - please do let us know! We’d love to hear from you.

Zoe is Lost My Name’s In-House Librarian. She lives, breathes, sleeps and dreams books for children and young people.

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