Beijing Library presents a 'forest of knowledge' to residents
Published: Dec 27, 2023 01:35 PM
The open reading space of the Beijing Library Photo: Courtesy of Capital Library of China

The open reading space of the Beijing Library Photo: Courtesy of Capital Library of China

A new cultural landmark in Beijing's sub-center of Tongzhou District officially opened to the public Wednesday afternoon, offering the public a modern and inviting space to enjoy the joy of reading. 

Located adjacent to the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal in Tongzhou, the Beijing Library (BL) has been up and running along with the Beijing Performing Arts Centre and the Grand Canal Museum of Beijing, with the three new cultural architectures committed to advancing the development of the national cultural center and meeting the growing cultural and spiritual needs of the public.

Covering an area of 75,000 square meters, it is the world's largest and most intelligent library with a first-of-its-kind 21,809-square-metre open reading space that won Guinness World Record for largest library hall, the largest outdoor reading space for children and the most professional art documents hall in China. It's also the first library in China to have an outsized self-supporting glass façade, according to the Capital Library of China (CLCN). The library is a new addition to CLCN, making it a literacy complex with three sites in Beijing.

Dubbed the "forest of knowledge" for its 144 ginkgo tree-like canopies that supports the roof, the architecture features China's first intangible cultural heritage exhibition hall in the library sector, taking visitors on a virtual tour of Beijing's hutong and experiencing the folk customs.

With a capacity of eight million book collections, the new cultural gem provides people a relaxing space for reading, cultural exchange, academic seminar and celebrating the cultural richness of Beijing and China at large.

Zhang Fa, a publicity officer with CLCN, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the library is equipped with China's largest automated storage and retrieval system.

"Over seven million books are stored in the underground intelligent stacks. A robot will take the book you want to the reading area within 15 minutes," said Zhang. 

Cheng Dan, a resident living in Tongzhou, told the Global Times that she can't wait to take her child to the library.

"Reading in such a beautiful library is incredibly appealing. I'm happy that there is a dedicated outdoor space for children. It's a perfect place for life-long learning," Cheng said. 

To welcome the readers, the library rolled out a number of immersive activities on the opening day including concert, traditional costume dress-up and woodblock printing workshop.

In an effort to nurture a life-long learning vibe, the library will host more than 1,000 activities every year including seminars, exhibitions and workshops.

"BL will be the first library in Beijing to provide deposit-free book lending. We will give the newborn baby a package of gifts to encourage life-long learning, including a customized reader's card, a book and a reading list," according to Zhang. 

The state-of-the-art building distinguishes itself from conventional libraries in that it has created a huge amphitheater-like common reading space, which is designed to promote exchanges and bring people together - spatially and intellectually. The stepped landscape and its tree-like setting provide an inviting atmosphere for people to rest and relax with a book that takes them on a journey in this exquisite building.

Plenty of open spaces such as this can be found at different locations throughout the building, encouraging interaction and the sharing of knowledge. Its highly transparent façade invites visitors to see inside and explore the generous area.

Extended from the sculpted reading space are ginkgo tree-like columns that reach up to support the roof. Each column is also an integral part of a distributed technology system that tackles climate control, lighting, acoustic comfort and rainwater. This combination of innovative engineering and natural beauty gives the building its unique atmosphere.