When organisations move, they generally exchange old (or relatively old) premises for new ones. The Workum Library’s move went the other way round. “Our new home is the oldest city hall in Friesland,” says Tinie Kleiker with noticeable pride. She is senior assistant for information, advice and activities and she led the project team tasked with the challenge of planning the interior design of the ‘new’ library.
The Workum Library now forms part of a ‘house of culture’ for the 4,000 residents of the municipality. This centre is a hive of activity, with the library playing a not insignificant part. The library is open three days a week, but the library cafe in the communal area is open all week. During its hours of business the library is far more than just a vehicle for the ‘lending, and stamping,’ of books. Tinie Kleiker says: “To give an example: we provide lectures and courses, such as the ‘Digi-Taal Huis’, which teaches people how to cope with an increasingly digitised world. The ‘Rechtswinkel’ (legal information service run by volunteers) has surgeries here, quite large numbers of young people come here to study, and we organise gatherings at which visitors help one another to use tablets. Our library really is a place you can go to if you need help.”
Planning the interior of the library was not simple. “This is an old building which we wanted to fit a modern library into,” Tinie Kleiker explains. “As it is a listed building we couldn’t just do whatever we wanted to. We wanted a large, open interior space, for example, but we couldn’t have that: we weren’t allowed to knock out any walls. Well, we were eventually allowed to remove one wall, but only because we managed to persuade the municipality that it hadn’t been there originally.”
Together with the Benice de Vries from OdV interieurarchitecten and Bieb Systemen, the team found creative ways around the limitations. “We arranged nice, functional things while keeping the ambiance cosy. The interior design follows the so-called retail formula, which means that books are presented frontally as far as possible and the library is divided into thematic worlds, for example Literature & Culture and Life & Love, which all have their own colour. As the standard colours were too harsh for our building, we adapted these with the help of the interior designer and Bieb Systems to give us shades which are recognisable but do not clash with the ambiance of our building.”
Tine Kleiker is very enthusiastic about the partnership with Van Keulen Interieurbouw/Bieb Systemen. “We moved within fourteen (!) days and Bieb Systemen were actively involved in this process. While we moved the books, Bieb Systemen switched the colours of the shelving from the old library to what we needed in the new library and fitted them again in the new interior. What this called for was close consultation with each other and being able to clearly agree what should be done and when, and then having everything happen as agreed. If you have to move in such a short space of time, it really is great when you work together this well.”