Libraries are the kind of place that you can find in almost every major city in developed countries around the world. Not only that, but they come in all shapes and sizes and in Stockholm, for instance, there are a few that are particularly interesting to visit, if only from the architectural viewpoint. In this post, we discover a few Stockholm libraries with unique stories.
One such institution is the National Library of Sweden (Kungliga biblioteket) with roots in a royal book collection from the 16th century. This library was officially formed in the late 1500s when it resided at Tre Kronor Palace.
The journey of the National Library through the 17th century is truly intriguing. Sweden as a country was prospering greatly during this period, especially thanks to the country’s extraordinary military success. Important parts of the library’s collection were also obtained during the Thirty Years’ War including the so-called Devil’s Bible.
The Devil’s Bible is probably the most well-known book in the collection of the National Library. This unique manuscript is thought to be the largest surviving medieval manuscript in the world and its origins are surrounded with mystery. It is said that the bible was written by a Bohemian monk whom the Devil himself helped write it.
What is truly fascinating about the modern-day residence of the library is its storage facilities. While this may sound boring, imagine that the seemingly two-floor building you see in the picture stores around 20 million books and millions of hours of audio-visual materials on 10 floors.
In the collection, you can find a great number of invaluable historical artefacts from around the world, most of which are available for study in the library. Apart from that, the present-day library building features original interior from the 1800s and is located in the pleasant Humlegården park in central Stockholm.
Only a couple of years after the National Library building had been completed, the facilities in which another one of beautiful Stockholm libraries currently resides were built. Hornstull Library resides in the former shoe factory established in 1890. The factory was extended in the following decade and consequently, it became Stockholm’s largest shoe factory.
However, that was not before all of the roughly 500 employees who worked there in the early 1900s were educated directly at the factory as it was the first of its kind in the area and, therefore, all workers had to be taught their new craft.
The factory was closed eventually in the 1950s but the beautiful brick industrial buildings have been preserved and later repurposed to serve their modern-day purpose.
The most ground-breaking of all libraries in Stockholm is still likely Stockholm Public Library located on the corner of Sveavägen and Odengatan. We can observe and appreciate the consequences of the revolution started by this library to this day. Following the new model originating overseas, Stockholm Public Library was the first institution of its kind in Sweden where visitors were able to browse through books freely without the need for assistance from the library staff.
This concept fundamentally changed the way we experience libraries today. Initially, the library was meant to receive a Classicistic design but since the process took some time, Classicism gave way to functionalism in the meantime and the library building followed suit. The cupola present in the initial design was replaced by the tall cylinder, which became the most notable element of the building’s design.
The first part of Stockholm City Library was opened in 1928 and the building was completed in its entirety some five years later. It is not only the concept of the library and its exterior that make it interesting, though. The interior, which is largely original, also hides a few interesting details.
Apart from roughly two million individual book titles available in the library, you can find a couple of sculptures in the large reading halls or reliefs picturing scenes from the Homer’s poem Iliad by the main entrance, for instance.
Hopefully, we can agree that the stories behind many of the libraries in Stockholm are interesting, to say the least. With that in mind, I hope you can now appreciate these places even if books are not quite your thing.
Do not forget that you can read the detailed stories of all these libraries in my earlier posts. If you liked this story, feel free to share it with your dear ones and make sure to come back to Trevl for more stories like this. Sign up for our newsletter below to keep yourself updated on the latest news from Trevl.