Photo Credit: Cecilie Stuyvenberg
Author: Cecilie Stuyvenberg
Arendal is a coastal town in the Aust-Agder county of the Sørlandet region in Norway. It is a town with a long history of sea faring/shipping due to its close proximity to the ocean. The population of Arendal is around 42,000.
The public library of Arendal is centrally situated on the main square of the town. The new library was opened in 1998 and ‘the ship’ is the central aesthetic idea of the architect. The interior is modern, open and light and the exterior is designed in the same style as the surrounding buildings. The building houses a number of art pieces on display.
With the new library the number of books on loan doubled and there was an even greater increase in the number of visitors. In addition to lending books, the library offers services such as a cafe, office assistance (fax, photo copy etc) free use of stationary computers, free e-book loan and free access of 15,000 sound books for people with disabilities. It has an IT room with 9 computers and customers with a valid library card have access to a library of classical music free of charge as well.The library hosts regular activities for children and adults like Family Day, lectures and film screenings, concerts exhibitions etc and it had rooms which can be rented for external activities. It offers home work assistance for children and a weekly reading group/ Norwegian discussions for women of other cultural backgrounds.
I don ‘t live in Arendal but we come every summer holiday to my parents’ summer house, which is 20 mins. drive away. I don’t use the library much, but my son, Sebastian does. It was very useful to him this summer when he was working on his personal project (ISH). It was a good, quiet and light place for him to do research (he could use the wifi) and sit and write. The staff were very helpful and friendly.
The library, along with the concert house, continues to play a major role in the Arendal’s evolution from a traditional sleepy summer-town to a more “all year” city.