Written by Ciara Ní Riain and Janus Engberg
Pictures by Ilona Kish, Ciara Ní Riain and Janus Engberg
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Aarhus offers a lot of exciting sights to take in when visiting, even some famous beyond the Danish boarder. One of these hidden gems is Aarhus Main Library, year round featuring great activities for all ages.
With an inviting an open architecture, and a central place by the harbor it is easy to access. DOKK1 makes shame of all stereotypes of libraries being either dusty or boring!
Quiet areas. Gaming areas. Family picnic tables. Meeting rooms. Indoor and outdoor playgrounds. Citizens’ information services. Study rooms. Exhibitions. Free computers. Tourist information. Lectures. Children’s art workshops. Print, scan and copying services. Breastfeeding and baby-changing areas.
A cafe. Reading rooms. Writing workshops. Wing chairs. Creative workshop spaces. Reading groups. Author events.
A 7.5m tubular gong that parents can sound by pressing a button at the Aarhus city hospital when their baby is born.
Spectacular views of the city and the harbour through spectacular picture windows. Spectacular harbour and city views from the playgrounds, walkways and cafe tables on the wraparound terrace outside Level 2.
Over 350,000 free books, films, games, music, newspapers and magazines in the children’s library and the adult library that are open seven days a week.
If you are looking for complete silence and a place to concentrate, the reading room is the place to be. This is truly a place for quiet study, or for disappearing in to a book or audiobook away from the sounds of phones and talking. The room has every facility for studying, private desks, outlets, wifi and very good chairs.
No wonder the main branch of Aarhus Public Libraries is at the heart of Denmark’s second-largest city, figuratively and literally.
Known as Dokk1 (‘Dock 1’), the head library is located on the harbour slap bang in the city centre. There’s plenty of parking, but you probably won’t need it: the light rail and multiple bus lines stop literally outside the door and it’s within walking distance of everything in Aarhus’ thriving, wonderful, compact city centre.
Dokk1 is one of those fantabulous libraries that is a destination in itself. When you walk in, you know that you are welcome and you feel that you are part of a community. It’s simple to find your way around, everything is well signposted, user-friendly and wheelchair-friendly. But if you do need assistance, the library assistants and librarians are all friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.
Dokk1 is a real community space, as thriving as the university city of Aarhus. The range of services is fabulous, but traditionalists need not fear that this diminishes the concept of it being a library. The adult and children’s libraries are at the heart of everything. Material is available in multiple languages. Everywhere you go, there are nooks and crannies in which to settle down and read in peace. The fancy robot check-in machine gives a ceremonial feel to returning a book.
You can’t describe DOKK1 with out mentioning the library staff and the many innovative events.
I will start with the staff. Very skilled and friendly they are eager to help both locals and tourists. They are fluent in English and can find you (almost) anything you are looking for. Beyond helping in a specific quest, they are also eager to recommend and share knowledge about literature or subjects. This is very helpful when you are diving in to new or unknown literary waters.
The librarians’ special displays are an ever-changing joy, as are their creative book categories. You might find yourself browsing displays that highlight ‘scrumptious books from small presses’; ‘whopper’ novels; ‘fated’ books; ‘unconventional literature’; or ‘macho’ books.
And if you time your visit right, you might catch one of the library book sales when they sell off surplus books, CDs and games for next to nothing. The library sales are so popular that the ever-thoughtful librarians even provide shopping baskets.
A lot more could be said about Dokk1 because it is comprised of so many surprises and small hidden gems that suits a lot of different interests and age groups which is also why several other blogs and medias such as for example the Danish Modevidenskab has chosen to featured this particular library. But the real experience of Dokk1 cannot be gained through reading alone – the house, the facilities, the events, the atmosphere, the people and of course the lovely literature has to be seen and felt.
Dokk1 Aarhus Main library – so good Denmark put it on a stamp!