University Library of the University of Amsterdam

A library whose decor no longer consists of books has been turned into a home in which to study. The UvAs enormous collection of books is kept in closed repositories, book depots and at various open locations. A growing number of students, anywhere from 1500 to 5000, visit the University Library every day in order to study and pick up their digitally ordered books. Despite plans for a new building in the future, the university wished to have a new, temporary interior design for the 2500 m2 space that would comprise study rooms plus 235 extra workspaces, the canteen, the information centre with its desk, the hallways, and an automated lending area.

To offer students a good second home, we wanted to achieve two important things: a space like the white page of a book where the students themselves would play the main role in determining how it is filled in, and in certain areas a domestic atmosphere where the students could also study informally. For instance, in one of the study rooms you will find a number of kitchen tables where you can work in groups under the lamp, a chesterfield couch for reading a newspaper, various sitting areas for a short break and special telephone areas in the hallways between the quiet study rooms. The columns in the canteen are transformed into illuminated trees with low energy light bulbs.

Until recently, borrowed books could only be picked up at the library desk during office hours. Now the students can pick up their ordered books themselves in a newly designed red room that is open until midnight, including weekends. In red cases with 1105 red crates, piles of books lie ready for the borrowers. Because these books come from different locations, this is the heart of the University Library, with a back office hidden from view in which the books are readied for self-service with the RFID system.


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