Education instead of coal: The new Recklinghausen Public Library is open!

Written by Andreas Mittrowann

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Recklinghausen is located in the Ruhr area, in the Northwest of the state of Northrhine-Westphalia. It is the  largest city and the adminstrative center in its district. Recklinghausen is part of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region and nationally known for its annual Ruhr Festival. Currently the city has about 113,000 inhabitants. Like many other cities in the so-called “Vest” region, it is characterised by structural change. Coal mining no longer exists as an economic factor, and the unemployment rate is around ten percent. Even though the city has a high level of so-called trade centrality, the “perceived vacancy rate” of stores in the city centre is significantly higher than in some shopping cities in the south of the republic.

As a result of these developments, the City Council decided last year to move the City Library from the former historic Willy Brandt House to a former department store with an even more central downtown location.

On 15 December, the municipal library was inaugurated during an opening  ceremony. In his speech, Mayor Christoph Tesche emphasised the special role of the library as a “frequency generator” and building block of urban development. State Secretary Klaus Kaiser of the Ministry of Culture and Science (MKW) underlined the new importance of libraries as “third places” for lounging and meeting, which goes far beyond the classical function of the „lending station“. In this respect, this library is also an ideal example of the paradigm shift in libraries and the associated challenges.

This can also be seen in the concrete realisation: the library features white shelves and presentation furniture, which are contrasted with colourful accents in the armchairs, seating and a gaming zone.  Visibility and transparency play a much greater role than in the interior design of earlier years. The modern look of the library is complemented by inviting armchairs, an attractive periodicals area in a glass pavilion and light features.

Particularly en vogue: a hidden area for events has been integrated in the middle of the library so that space can be made available if required. In this way, the new municipal library in Recklinghausen shows the core traits of future-oriented library design: The new „currency“ for the Ruhr area is highlighted by its welcome exterior, comfortable amenities,  interactivity, learning and development spaces, playfulness as well as transparency: Education instead of coal!

For the german speaking, there is also a video clip about the library.


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