Libraries or modern art? Reading rooms turn a page

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Libraries or modern art? Reading rooms turn a page


It’s hot. You want to get away, but beaches and mountains are far off and far too crowded. What to do?
Try visiting a library. Forget about walls of shelves and boring reading rooms ― Seoul now boasts some stylish libraries that look more like cafes than cram schools.

Lee Jin-A Library
This is like a book cafe perched on the edge of a mountain. Located in the red brick building near the rear gate of Seoul’s Seodaemun Prison, the four-story building’s central lobby has the feel of a modern art museum.
The library, which was built by the city government on a donation by a textile entrepreneur ― the donation was made to commemorate the death of his daughter, who perished in a car accident ― is of admirable quality for its small size.
The children’s section on the first floor is an audio-visual library devoted to e-books and educational DVDs, as well as online programs. On one side of the same floor is a special room designed so that younger children can read books on the floor with their mothers.
The place doesn’t have study-rooms like other libraries do, where high school students spend the night cramming for exams. Perhaps because of that, the space seems relaxed and free. The scenery outside through the window of the library is more intriguing ― it doesn’t look like Seoul. If you step outside to the outdoor terrace, you can feel the fresh air from Mount Inwang.
The library also provides classes for mothers and children, such as ballet, aerobics and field trips. Classes cost anywhere from 45,000 won ($47) to 75,000 won for three months.
Call (02) 360-8600 for more information.

Dongdaemun-gu Public Digital Library
This is like a terrace reading room inside a forest. It’s located within Hongneung Park, which is frequented by senior citizens who drop by to carry home bottles of spring water, and by families out on walks. Like its slogan, “A library in nature,” every reading room here has an outdoor terrace, with the green leaves of the trees hanging over it.
Up to the building’s rooftop, visitors can peer down into the arboretum beneath them ― the place is packed with exotic plants and flowers. The library’s highlight is a hut where visitors can lie down, read or even eat lunch.
On the first floor is a reading room for children ― “Treasure Island of Wisdom” as the library calls it. Inside is a separate space for younger children. Past the reading room outside the terrace is also a children’s theater and a playground. Writing composition classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays. Every day at 3 p.m., the library also plays children’s movies.
Call (02) 960-1959 for more information.

Gwangjin Digital Public Library
The view of Han River from this library is magnificent; the floor-to-ceiling glass wall allows one to take in the natural scenery in one look. The second floor is divided into separate reading rooms for all ages, digital resources and audio-visual libraries for children.
The reading rooms for children aged three to five are specially designed with an ondol (heated) floor for the safety of young children. Parents can sit around reading with their young kids at cushioned tables in the shape of a donut. The idea is to sit your child in the center of the donut and read to him or her face to face.
There are a variety of reading programs as well. On Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30 a.m., the library holds reading sessions for young children. Every Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., free screenings are held in the library’s projection rooms.
Call (02) 3437-5092 for more information.

Public Libraries

Jeongdok Library Hwadong, Seoul (02) 2011-5742
Namsan Library Huam-dong, Seoul (02) 754-7579
Mapo Lifetime Study Hall Seogyo-dong, Seoul (02) 3141-4764
Seongbuk Information Library Sangwolgok-dong, Seoul (02) 962-1081
Jung-gu Information Library Mukdong, Seoul (02) 490-9130
Nowon Children’s Library Junggye-dong, Seoul (02) 933-7145
LG Sangnam Library Wonseo-dong, Seoul (02) 708-3701
Incheon Bukgu Library Bupyeong-dong, Incheon (032) 519-9023
Yeonsu Library Yeonsu-dong, Seoul (032) 814-7560
Gyeyang Library Gyesan-dong, Incheon (032) 645-6427
Gyeonggi Central Library Jowon-dong, Suwon (031) 248-3473
Provincial Gwacheon Library Byeolyang-dong, Gwacheon (02) 507-6572
Jungwon Cultural Information Seongnam-dong, Seongnam (031) 752-3913
Center Library
Anyang Seoksu Library Seoksu-dong, Anyang (031) 389-3812

Daejeon Hanbat Library Munhwa-dong, Daejeon (042) 580-4262
Chunguk Central Library Sajik-dong, Cheongju (042) 580-4262
Cheonan City Central Library Wonseong-dong, Cheonan (041) 521-2801

Jeonju Metropolitan Library Dongwansan-dong, Jeonju (063) 287-4836
Gwangju Metropolitan Library Woosan-dong, Gwangju (062) 264-9857
Mokpo Public Library Sinjeong-dong, Mokpo (061) 278-9064

Andong Library Dangbuk-dong, Andong (054) 854-6065
Changwon Library Jungang-dong, Changwon (055) 262-9663
Busan Metropolitan Library Choeup-dong, Busan (051) 810-8241
Daegu Central Library Dongin 2-ga, Daegu (053) 420-2715
Ulsan Central Library Bukjeong-dong, Ulsan (052) 244-3173

Chuncheon Lifetime Education Jungangno 3-ga (033) 258-2511
Information Center
Woodang Library Geonip-dong, Jeju (064) 752-4986

by Ahn Gyeong-won, Sin Ji-won
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