I have for some time been contemplating doing a series of posts about libraries. I have spent a good deal of my time in libraries as a student, as part of my work, and as daughter of a librarian. Libraries can be marvellous and they can be terribly depressing. I will mostly be describing the marvellous kind.
I begin with one of the most beautiful libraries in Copenhagen. The Copenhagen University Library is its official name but colloquially it’s know as The Library in Fiolstræde or just Fiolstræde from its location in the poetically named street Fiolstræde – Violet Alley.
The library is the main library for the faculties of social sciences and law, and as such I (an art student) have in theory nothing to do there. However the University Library is part of The Royal Library and books from their holdings can be delivered to any of their sub-branches. Very fortunate since the faculty library for humanities is extremely depressing and ugly. I have often wondered whether this was some kind of joke – that the aesthetic studies should inhabit the ugliest campus of the University of Copenhagen. But no matter – I think I have a personal responsibility of moving in beautiful places. Which means that since I began my studies I have had books delivered to Violet Alley or to The Black Diamond (next in line in this series), two places where I have also studied for most of my exams.
Violet Alley is one of the only neo-gothic buildings in the Danish capital. It was designed by Johan Daniel Herholdt who was inspired by the San Fermo church in Verona. The library was inaugurated in 1861 and some ten years ago it was restored to its former glory. Look!
There are desks between the bookcases where students can work undisturbed (or surf via the free wifi) with a view to the large windows or to the beautiful ceilings.
Unfortunately the library will be closing next year and the books will be moved to warehouses. It is all very sad not least since this is the oldest Danish library still functioning. There have been many protests from professionals and users – there’s even a protest group on Facebook.
I would be very disappointed if they close it. The library is situated in the heart of Copenhagen and neighbours the original site of the university, the Cathedral, the former Cathedral School (Metropolitanskolen which will turn 800 next year), the ancient student’s residence Regensen and the Trinity Church that was build for the students in the 17th century and originally housed the library. If this part of the city should not house the university library I think the whole area will suffer from it historically speaking.
I am cheering for the Violet Alley Library!