When I visited the gorgeous town of Grimstad on my Scandinavian tour, I was hugely impressed with the town’s new library. It lies between the water and the town buildings, and it also acts as a covered walkway between the old town and the new town centre. If the weather is cold and there’s snow on the ground, pedestrians can choose to walk through the library instead of outside. The passageway is filled with information about local cultural events, there’s a place for coffee, public toilets are easily accessible and there’s a small auditorium. It’s an attractive, light and appealing building. I also loved the fact that a book can be borrowed from any library in Norway, and then returned to any library in the country – you can borrow in the far north and return the book in Oslo if you wish. That system gives library users access to every book in the nationwide library system.
The 2000 sq. metre building first opened its doors to the public in 2017. The colours used in the building reflect sea, sky, sand and rock. For 36 years the town’s library had been in temporary premises, so the Grimstad residents were delighted to have an attractive modern library in the heart of town. Henrik Ibsen once lived in Grimstad, as did Nobel prize winning writer Knut Hamsun. With such a rich literary tradition, the town should have a worthy repository for books and a place that attracts passers-by. (And, as an added bonus, those lucky locals can find Jane Austen’s novels in Norwegian on the library shelves.)