Thanks to Gary Price’s ResourceShelf for reminding me that the world’s first airport libraryhas opened at Amsterdam’s Schiphol. It is part of an “ambitious Holland Boulevard” to create a “strong Dutch sense of place.” This new “zone” in the airport “aims to deliver a strong flavour of Holland to the five million departing and transit passengers through the area each year”…with… “a Dutch Kitchen Bar & Cocktails outlet.. a Bols Genever Experience unit, displaying the history of the well-known Dutch brand…. Rijksmuseum store, a Kids’ Forest play area, a Baby Care Lounge, a Back To Life massage zone, an area selling premium chocolates and flowers, a unit offering long-stay transit passengers the chance to undertake excursions into Amsterdam, plus a series of ‘living rooms’ with fireplaces and televisions…” and the casino.
The MoodieReport.com writes “The zone fits with Schiphol Group’s vision to devote 10% of space at the airport to entertaining passengers and non-revenue-generating activities such as the library, museum and baby care areas.” What’s more, the library is seen as adding “a touch of class. Supported by the Dutch Public Libraries, it’s not a revenue generating area for the airport, but it does enhance the consumer services offer and sense of well-being, especially for the many transit passengers that pass through the Boulevard.
I wrote last week about architect Francine Houben musing that public libraries may be the new cathedrals in communities. In previous centuries many saw the cathedral as a a gathering place, a place of community pride, and, yes, for some it did offer a sense of “well-being.” Interesting that Houben designed Delft Library and is now completing Birmingham Library. And the “zone developers” of Schiphol share the view that the library is a vital part of this transient and transit community.
Wow. So when is a library opening at Toronto’s Pearson Airport – or Chicago’s O’Hare? Are our public libraries seen by our communities as part of the “sense of place?” And, if not, why not?