Go to contents

Seoul Metropolitan Library

Posted November. 27, 2012 05:06,   


The Library of Congress in Washington is the world`s largest library with a length of 1,046 kilometers and 142 million books and 4,000 librarians. The library seems more like a palace because of its scale and golden interior. Korea’s National Assembly Library has just 4.6 million books but along with the National Library of Korea, it has cutting-edge digital technology. The problem is that both libraries are hard to reach using public transportation.

In "Tomorrow," a movie about a disaster due to global warming, college students run to the New York Public Library on 42nd street in Manhattan to escape waves that swamp the Statue of Liberty. They keep warm by burning books in the library after power and gas go out. They burn law books but cannot burn those of Friedrich Nietzsche and the Gutenberg Bible. A library is used as a metaphor in the movie to represent human intellect that ignored nature`s warning.

Americans are more comfortable with a public library in their neighborhood than the Library of Congress. During the Major League Baseball season, people put a baseball cap on the lion statue in front of the New York Public Library. The library`s central hall is open to the public for weddings. Carrie, the main character of the cable TV series “Sex and the City,” planned to have her wedding there. Residents read books and watch videos, putting their groceries aside. The library has been called the best public service provided by New York City for more than a decade. In Korea, municipal and district libraries are popping up. They are mother-friendly because they have rooms for babies and children. Artists are also invited to give lectures. This is one great example of the local autonomous system.

The Seoul Metropolitan Library, which marked its one-month anniversary Monday, is growing in popularity. People visit the library to read books on their lunch break, and parents bring their children in the afternoon or on weekends. The facility is perfect except for the relatively low volume of books, cramped reading rooms and noise. The library was the idea of former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon and was opened by his successor Park Won-soon. The library`s location in the former City Hall building allows easy access. It is all the more welcoming since both former and incumbent mayors jointly completed the project. Hopefully, the library can serve as a Seoul landmark like the New York Public Library does for the Big Apple.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)