Two weeks ago I spent some quality library time in Innsbruck, Austria.
The first library I visited was the Innsbruck University Library which was really modern and fancy: fashionable sleek black furniture, brand new sanitary installations, self-checkout… I was impressed! The only drawback was that almost every seat was taken and the place was buzzing! So many people were entering and exiting the building, it was hard to concentrate.
So after a lunch break (cucumber maki!) I checked out the faculty library of theology:
This was more like it: a quiet atmosphere and an interesting crescent-like set-up. Maybe there is a connection with this exact faculty and the vibe of peacefulness?!
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Another of my go-to libraries is the Library of the Department of Art History at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich.
Situated in a mint-green building in the heart of Schwabing, a borough situated in the North of Munich, students can access this reference library distributed on three floors.
I enjoy working there because it’s so bright there even if the weather is the pits. Plus, it has windows and you can actually sit infront of an open window which is absolutely wonderful when it’s hot outside because the building really heats up.
And if you’re lucky, you might get the seat with a view on this pretty building:
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image 3: taken by Franziska
One of our beloved readers commented on Franziska’s introduction to our new challenge to check out Oxfam’s shops of donated books which are located in several European cities (see here for stores in Germany).
NYC also has a bookshop of a similar concept: Housingworks Bookstore Cafe.
Their mission is to support AIDS affected as well as homeless people by selling donated novels, scientific books, and much more. They also invite their costumers to pick up some of the books, order a coffee and just chill on their inner balcony or at their wooden tables.
The atmosphere is great and if you stay until the evening you are going to be able to listen to some of the readings, talks, and discussions, which Housingworks is offering.
Either if you donate a read book, buy a new one or just sip on your coffee and have some cake: you will enjoy this lovely place!
Housingworks Bookstore Cafe
126 Crosby Street
New York, NY 10012
Hours: Mon–Fri 10AM–9PM, Sat–Sun 10AM–5PM
While Julia has been busy discovering really neat bookstores and open-air libraries in NYC I’ve had the chance to do some research in several different libraries in Munich AND also in Innsbruck, Austria!
Originally I had planned on taking photos of the interior of the libraries. But since I always felt like a secret agent whilst doing so, I’ve decided to not publish these pictures due to legal reasons.
Enough said! Today I present you the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte (ZI) in Munich! It is the most important place of research in the field of art history in all of Germany.
The ZI-building is heavy on German history: during WW II the building was used as an administration building by the National Socialist Party. Once the war was over, it functioned as the central art collecting point where Nazi-looted art was collected and restituted. Today, the building holds the ZI, the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung (a collection of prints, drawing, and engravings), and the sculpture gallery.
I enjoy working in the ZI not only because of its vast collection of books but also because you feel like you’re in the inside of a huge vessel: wood paneling on the walls, high ceilings, corkscrew stairs…and having to turn wheels (steering wheels?! 🙂 ) in order to access the books in the shelves.
The architect, Paul Ludwig Troost, fit out many ships so one can find a reason for the nautical feeling one is surrounded by whilst in the main reading room. However, Troost isn’t primarily known for the interior décor of ships – Hitler was a great admirer of his restrained and rather modern architecture and Troost therefore was assigned several projects.
To be honest, it does at times feel odd to be working in a building fraught with such a dark history; however, awareness for the past is crucial and so the ZI forms a kind of monument for never letting such misanthropic history happen again.
Today I want to share a little personal story with you.
When I graduated from university last summer my sister gave me Paul Auster’s novel Sunset Park. After I arrived in NY last September I read it and loved it instantly. It’s the story of four young people living in an abandoned house across from Green-Wood Cemetery, a cemetery in the area of Sunset Park/Brooklyn.
After being home in Germany for some months, I moved back to New York and found a place to live in exactly this neighborhood, Sunset Park. Even if I’ve been to the beautiful cemetery before, I never thought of moving here on purpose. It was a total coincidence.
Last fall I heard about the Community Bookstore, also located in Brooklyn, being a recommended bookstore by Paul Auster. I went there and was totally in love! The store itself is not very big: It’s a long narrow room, filled with only great books. There is also a cat and a red piano. It is a wonderful place.
This weekend I revisited the bookstore for our blog project:
And of course there was one book I had to buy:
143 Seventh Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11215
Hours: Mon-Sat 9AM – 9PM, Sun 9AM – 8PM
Some days ago Franziska sent me this crazy link:
I totally freaked out and it got even better when I discovered that there are actually more awesome Little Free Libraries all around NYC!
People are invited to bring their read books and exchange them for new ones. With the help of this plan
, I discovered two of altogether ten libraries:
Can you see the little solar panel of the top of the second bowl? It turns out to be the book’s spotlight! How wild is that?
You find the first little library on the corner of Eldridge and Rivington Street. The second one is just around NYU.
As you can probably tell, I’m still totally amazed by those little libraries. And there are many more to discover
Thank you so much Franziska for opening my eyes! You are my little “Spürnase” aka “good nose”!
To our readers in Munich: there is a similar concept in front of the Academy of Fine Arts! I’m not sure if it still exists, but last year there was a little yellow suitcase filled with books lying on a bench. If you’re around Schwabing try to find it!
Do you know what happens when you leave your books alone at night?
Our dear friend Lisl just discovered the answer:
Thank you so much Lisl, this is amazing! But did you know that your own books can dance on their shelves, too?
Check this out:
Do you also have some book stories you want to share with us? Comment on our posts or write us an email to wehavetheheart(at)gmail.com. We’d love to hear your stories!
You can visit the dancing books in the bookstore Type Books / Toronto:
883 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I can’t tell you anything about the books they sell, but I wouldn’t mind those neon lights being part of my apartment…
Mercer Street Books & Records
206 Mercer Street, NYC
Hours: Mon-Thur 10AM-10PM, Fri & Sat 10AM-12PM, Sun 11AM-10PM
Books Kinokuniya on Avenue of the Americas between 40th & 41st St is the first book store I will be writing about. Because what could be more New York than a Japanese book store packed with manga comics and authentic Japanese shoes in the middle of Manhattan? Also, my co-worker recommended me this place because of its nice little cafe. So that’s another plus!
Even if I don’t speak a single word of Japanese, I am sure, this store provides all you ever wanted to find out about Japanese culture, food, and much more. Besides books, they also offer a well-chosen selection of English art books, Japanese films and music, adorable presents and souvenirs from funny and eccentric to delicate and creative design. If you’re lucky, you’ll also see a cosplayer among the customers! Finally, the store is an inspiration to become your own artist. They sell books and equipment to create manga comic novels or Japanese calligraphy!
So did I buy something in the end? Nope, but I was presented with a great view over Bryant Park!
1073 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10018
Hours: Mon-Sat 10:00AM – 8:00PM/ Sun 11:00AM – 7:30PM