I love libraries. Paley was my favorite building back at Temple. It’s the best place in between classes — you can take a nap or maybe even catch up on work. When I came to Taida (National Taiwan University), I was real worried that they wouldn’t have the same library culture. I need a quiet place to nap during the day and a 24-hour study space to do last week’s homework at 3 am.
Thankfully, Taida has not one but two libraries. Despite their differences, I love them both the same.
The Main Library at Taiwan National University
The library is at the end of this long, palm tree lined road that cuts through the middle of campus. When it’s not raining, students sit on the stairs, the railings on the promenade, or in the small plaza out front. Leaving the library at night, the sun sets over the palm trees and sky scrapers in the distance. On a clear day you can see Taipei 101 in the distance. It’s literally and figuratively the heart of campus.
The inside is just as beautiful as the outside. It’s all dark wood and big windows. I’m glad Taida uses the same standard issue university furniture as Temple, but I was even happier to see Taida students taking those almost comfortable library naps. Library naps are an important part of my routine, and I’m glad they are an accepted part of the culture here. It’s also good for studying, too. Lots of desks, outlets, and lamps.
The library closes at 10 pm, but there is a 24-hour study room. It’s this cavernous basement space under the main library. I’ve already started to recognize the regular crowd here, myself included. There’s a seat reservation system and everyone has their seat. The Wi-Fi works well on laptops, and terribly on cell phones. I think it’s intentional. I take a seat by the window so I can get cell service.
Koo Chen-fu Memorial Social Sciences Library
This library is on the edge of campus, closer to my apartment. There’s no grand entrance. From the outside it looks like this glass box tacked on to a massive academic building. I’ve often passed the entrance by mistake.
Inside, it’s a bright and airy space. A small koi pond bounces light back through the windows. The columns fade into skylights. Curved bookshelves create a maze that makes you wander the stacks for longer. Huge desks line the perimeter of the room. When you wake up from a nap on the white leather sofas, the first thing you see is the cloud-like ceiling and skylights.
But still, it’s a library. It’s quiet, filled with books and students. It doesn’t have the same social function as the Main Library, but I think that’s mostly because of location. You can still see people meeting up, staying up late, studying together, and taking well deserved naps. These two spaces are buildings with intention. Every detail points to their purpose: academics and the spread of ideas.
There’s nothing like a good library.