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The New Library, Almere – What a universal library service looks like

Noted: an article on the Nieuwe Bibliotheek in the Dutch town of Almere.

This is what you want libraries to look like:

A busy, modern coffee bar

A coffee bar in the Almere New Library

I wonder if this approach to libraries is common in Dutch and other European towns. In Suffolk, we do children’s events and the nuts and bolts of lending really well. We’ll also help older customers get online and offer people who don’t have access to their own PC pretty much unlimited time on a computer, which is particularly helpful if you need to complete your DWP forms online.

This is all noble and important work, but it’s primarily aimed at helping certain groups in some way. What about people who don’t really need help? Who just want to enjoy some time in a library.

That’s what I like about the Almere New Library, and I hear similar good things about British libraries. They’re just somewhere you, or anybody, would like to go; better than, say, Starbucks.

In other words, libraries should be a universal service.