A temple of knowledge and wisdom – The National and University Library of Ljubljana

Written by Joachim Hassel. For how to contribute to Library Planet look here: https://libraryplanet.net/contribute/

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During our holiday in Slovenia in July 2019 we stayed for a couple of days in the capital Ljubljana. This is a really nice, atmospheric and lively city worth visiting. Right in the city center and only a short way back from the Ljubljanica river lies the impressive building of the National and University Library (Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica), wich is one of the landmarks of Ljubljanica and the most important work of architect Jože Plečnik, who created the plans for it in the years 1930–31.

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When the building was opened in 1941, it served as the University Library only, but from 1945 onward it has also been the National Library of Slovenia. The library collections consits of more than 2 million units, and approximately 270.000 visitors visit the library every year. The main reading room can only be visited on Saturdays, but there are exhibitions as well and the cosy NUK Café – so in any case the library is worth a visit!

The Main Reading Room is full of light and has interesting chandeliers, desks, chairs and desk lamps, which were designed by the architect Plečnik himself.

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The architecture emphasizes the concept of the library as „temple of knowledge and wisdom“ and is full of symbols and metaphors. The exterior is reminiscent of a Renaissance palace and consists of a combination of red brick and grey stones, which were formerly part of the roman wall. The windows on the upper floors are meant to resemble open books.

When you enter the library through the heavy door, you will be surprised to find yourself in a dark and almost sinister atmosphere. This impression is caused by the massive staircase with ist 32 huge columns built from a limestone wich resembles dark marble. After slowly ascending the stairs wich lead to the Main Reading Room you will have come „from the twilight of ignorance to the light of knowledge and enlightenment”.

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