The Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek, Norway – a bright modern library with an old heart

Written by Laura Jorud

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The Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek is the second largest public library in Norway.[1]It is located in Bergen, a picturesque tourist destination home to approximately 280,000 residents.[2]

The library was founded in 1872, with the current main building dating back to 1917.[3]Situated in proximity to a lush park and small lake, the library serves as a quiet oasis amid the general hustle and bustle of the city.

The interior is a unique blend of styles, ranging from modern to classic and traditional. A café off the main entrance, for example, gives off a modern vibe similar to that of a bookstore. Patrons can enjoy a light sandwich, salad, or coffee while reading a book or catching up with friends.

Next to the café is an orange spiral staircase, which speaks to use of bright accent colors throughout the library. Thankfully, there is a sleek elevator close by for greater accessibility.

In addition to its colorful accents, the library’s modernly-designed rooms feature the abundant natural light and clean lines typical of Scandinavian design. These spaces cater to a variety of patrons, but all provide a bright space to sit and enjoy the city views.

Spaces like the children’s and teen’s section are also versatile. There is room for games, crafts, and various other programming in addition to traditional books and media.

Alongside these modern spaces is the traditional, well-preserved “heart” of the library. With its dark furnishings, stately portraits, and impressive columns, one gets the sense that rest of the library has grown and changed around this central space. Yet there exists a common lightness throughout with the inclusion of a large skylight and striking seafoam green floors.

A wonderful blend of traditional and modern, the Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek offers distinct, colorful spaces sure to please local patrons and tourists alike.


[1]  Bergen Public Library. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from

[2]  Statistics Norway. (2018). Population. Retrieved from

[3] Bergen Public Library. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from

All photos by Laura Jorud


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