Sunday, 20 March 2016

L is for Lava

It seems in Belgium more and more libraries are closing because they don't have many visitors anymore. What if, instead of closing them down, you would actually make them worth visiting again?

For my second excursion I visited Tomas who works in Lava bibliotek & verkstad at Kulturhuset. Kulturhuset holds, amongst many other things, six different libraries. We started the day going up and down elevators and stairs exploring the building.

There is so much going on at Kulturhuset; it's like a tiny city. One of my favourite places was one I usually would not be allowed in: a library just for 10 to 13 year olds. That's right - No parents allowed! And then there are cinemas, puppet theatres, restaurants, conference rooms, exhibition spaces, and much much more.

The city theatre is also housed in the building, along with all their backstage facilities: wig designing offices, costume sewing rooms, laundry facilities, wood shops to make theatre backgrounds, prop rooms, rehearsal rooms... and apartment sized elevators to move everything around. Tomas gave an extensive explanation of everything, which was wonderful; but he could also just have opened every door while loudly proclaiming: "And this is where the magic happens!"

In the afternoon Lava bibliotek & verkstad opened its doors to the public. People were already waiting to get in before opening time! Lava bibliotek is targeted at 14 to 25 year olds and it's a place where you can come and relax amongst books. But there is more. If you have books that hold knowledge about sewing, why not provide a sewing machine so you can actually use the books? And a button machine and a 3D printer and a recording studio and drawing material and sticker paper and... well, if you can imagine it, they probably have it. If they don't, just send in a suggestion and they will make it happen.

Usually Lava bibliotek also has a wide range of workshops and activities going on. Some are organised by the employees, but a lot of them spring from ideas of visitors. I attended a drop in-book circle, and even though talking about books is probably the last thing teenagers are thinking about on Friday afternoon, there was quite the show up and the conversations were really interesting.

I think I was supposed to go home by 5 o'clock but I stayed until closing time without even realising time was passing by so fast. It was really nice to talk to all the visitors, to find out what they think about the library and to help them with their ideas and projects. I could tell they really feel at home, and I am sure if you ever visit Lava yourself it won't take you long to feel the same.

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