Copenhagen City Hall Library – a hidden little pearl in the buzzing city

Written by Library Planet editor Christian Lauersen, director of Libraries and Citizen Services in Roskilde Municipality, Denmark. For how to contribute to Library Planet look here: https://libraryplanet.net/contribute/

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In September 2018 a wonderful little secret of Copenhagen became accessible to the public; The City Hall opened its library to everyone. The City Hall is a – to Danish standards – huge and stunning piece of architecture located in the heart of Copenhagen. The City Hall library is located in the second floor and on the way up there, you lose your jaw several times walking through gigantic halls, up wide rustic chairs, looking at renaissance chandeliers. Coming from the buzzing center of Copenhagen with its hectic jumble of cars, bikes, tourists and pigeons walking into the small two-room library is like a big smack of silence in the face. An overwhelming calmness meets you and the library just calls for contemplation.

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The City Hall library opened in 1903 alongside with the City Hall itself. The purpose of the library was to give the city council access to knowledge in order to handle democracy. The most important meeting room on the city hall had direct access to the library of somebody in on the council had to look something up during a meeting (politicians nowadays really should also have a library close by).

The first room of the library got one big beautiful table with a dark green surface and wooden shelves with books all around it. The literature in the library is mostly governmental literature – both with a Danish and international focus – but also historical books about Copenhagen can be found in the library. The collection can not be checked out but is for use in the place only. I guess most visitors use it as a place for reading and study. Above the door to the next room is a painting by Danish painter P. S. Krøyer. On the picture you see architect Martin Nyrop in a conversation with conductor Emil Jørgensen about the building of the City Hall.

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The second room of the library is breathtaking; Stunning wood carved shelves with books from floor to ceiling, heavy and rustic tables and chairs (the chairs are from 1815!), a balcony all the way around and amazing lampshades to light it all up.

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I sat down in the City Hall Library and worked for an hour – and what an hour! I can work anywhere and for some reason I work great on trains and plains but sitting there in that historical library, in a chair from 1815, just getting overwhelmed with calmness and realizing I was right in the center of the buzzing capital was really something. It is not the last time I’m gonna visit the City Hall Library of Copenhagen – either to get swooned away by this stellar historic library or get some hours work in a totally quiet pearl.

Cheers

Christian

 

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